Monday, April 21, 2014

The Quest For Sleep And The King's Art of Rocking a Child To Sleep

All couples trade in the ability to get a good night’s sleep when they have children.  Before the Lightning Kid was born, it took Shark Boy 15 months to sleep through the night, and when he moved from a crib to a bed, he needed pillows on the floor for padding because he would flip and flop till he fell out.  Of the two princes, Shark Boy was the better sleeper.

The Lightning Kid had 3 angles of attack when it came to destroying sleep:

  • Not going to sleep in the first place.  Frequent wake-ups.  Waking up every 2 hours was not uncommon, and it could get as bad as hourly.
  • Trouble going back to sleep after a wake-up. Tactics include squirming, kicking and poking his parents in the face; these were also useful for the Lightning Kid when he didn't want to go to sleep in the first place.
  • Waking up early.  The Lightning Kid often woke up before sunrise and would not go back down, to the point where the effort to put him back down was longer than the time the Royal Family had before they would have to get up to start their day.  They could get him to sleep, only for him to toss and turn himself back awake again.  Half past five was the most common time for this.

For this last tactic, the King had formed a counter-strategy of taking him to his own bed.  Nestled in the crook of the King’s arm, the Lightning Kid squirmed less, and when he did, the King could arrest the movement so that he wouldn't wake.  While the King couldn't sleep this way, at least he could rest lying down, and it kept the castle quiet so the Queen and Shark Boy could continue sleeping.

Not from an early morning, but serves to demonstrate, nonetheless.

The King, in fact, had developed a whole art of putting his sons to sleep.  Rocking them to sleep was the key to the art, but there were a series of rules and axioms to the art which are codified below:

The King’s Rules for Rocking Unruly Babies and Toddlers to Sleep

  1. Calm thyself prior to beginning.  Thou art irritated at the necessity of this, but thou canst not impart calm on thy child without having it within thyself.
  2. Clear the bedding where thou wouldst put the child down.  Nothing is worse than having a sleeping child in thy arms and the space where the child should lie is occupied by a crumpled up blanket.
  3. Count.  Use an impartial measurement of time to evaluate how long thou hast been trying to rock the child to sleep.  It always seems longer than it is, and if twenty minutes of effort buys you two hours of sleeping child, that would still be a 6-to-1 return on investment, which would be a rich investment in financial terms, indeed.
  4. Lullabies can also be used not only as a means to calm the child, but also as a measurement of time spent (see 3.).  Thou knowest more lullabies than thou thinkest.  Twinkle twinkle Little Star, the ABCs, and Baa-Baa Black Sheep are all the same song - they can be sung in sequence for more continuity and boring the child to sleep.  Music boxes can also be used.
  5. Acquaint thyself with the layout of the room and have a clear exit strategy.  A darkened room is a boon for sleep, and when the child is finally sleeping, thou dost not want to trip on a piece of furniture or toy and spoil the entire effort.
  6. When the child is lying down, spend another few moments making sure they are settled.  Another minute with a hand on the back can make the difference between a sleeping child and re-starting the entire process if the child is prone to restlessness.

The Royals had pursued many avenues in the quest for better sleep.  A wonderful Lady from a faraway land had suggested a weighted blanket to minimize some of the more extreme tossing and turning, and it had been semi-effective but by no means a full cure.  They had consulted healers who suggested changes in diet and supplements might lead to better sleep (not to mention appetite and growth).   They had brought the Lightning Kid in for overnight study and observation; while this had been both an adventure and ordeal for the Queen and the Lightning Kid, the results were still not available as of this writing.

Finally, since he had turned two-and-a-half years old, the King and Queen decided to move him out of a crib, and put him on a mattress on the floor.  The Lightning Kid was no longer a baby, and the crib wasn't really doing them any favours in terms of helping him sleep.  The Quest for sleep would continue...

The crib is no more...