Everything In Its Place

Eirinn sleeps with a stuffed cat, a knitted bunny, her snuggie blanket she’s had since she was born, and a pink unicorn pillow pet.  Her pillow pet must sleep to her left, the cat sleeps on the left shoulder of the unicorn, the bunny on its right, snuggie blanket across the top of it all, horizontally.  All of this, including Eirinn, head and all, is tucked beneath her sheet and quilt.  A place for everything and everything in its place.  If any one piece of the puzzle is off even by an inch, it’s all wrong and Eirinn won’t settle until it’s right.

That’s fine.  If there’s one thing I can understand, it’s being particular about things.  The problem doesn’t lay in the routine, but in the disruption in the routine.  See, Eirinn doesn’t settle immediately at night.  Avery is down and out.  Once she gets her kiss and hug, a “bye and I love you,” she’s out of sight until morning.  But Eirinn won’t give in that easily.  She needs her music.  For years it was the Jersey Boys soundtrack, but for the last few months it’s been Rio.  “Wanna take you to Rio, Rio.  Fly over the ocean like an eagle, eagle.”  She needs her nightlight.  She needs a hug and a kiss, too, but she also gets nightmares, or bad thinkings, as we’ve come to call them because they generally occur before she’s technically asleep.  And so, with her hug and kiss, she needs help with good thoughts to combat the bad thinkings.  Nightly we play bedtime Coffee Talk (Cawfee Tawk) and I give her a few good things to think about.  Our theory is that if she’s busy thinking about good things, she won’t have room in her mind to think about bad things.  Usually I list everyone who loves her, talk about a special upcoming event, or remind her of some of her favourite memories.  Lately all I’ve had to say is “think about Christmas” and she’s content, thinking about the ten million things she’s asked for from Santa.

But sometimes these good things don’t work and her bad thinkings scare her out of bed.  She sometimes forgets, or she hears an unusual noise, or her bad thinkings are just too strong for the good thoughts I gave for her to think about.  Rare is the day that she doesn’t get out of bed at least once.  We’re working on twice thrice so far tonight.  Each waking would be far less painful if she didn’t insist on dragging her entire menagerie with her down the stairs.  Then I have to figure out what’s wrong, take her back upstairs and reassemble the very specific and very time consuming arrangement of stuffed things, hug, kiss, good things.

While this is all so very frustrating, I understand what it feels like to have nightmares.  I suffered with chronic nightmares throughout my childhood and I, too, had to have everything exactly right or else I’d wake up terrified.  Some nightmares were so terrifying, I still remember them in vivid detail; some from when I was as young as 6 or 7.  With me it was more about body position.  I HAD to sleep on my stomach.  I HAD to have my head turned toward the door.  I HAD to have the blankets over my head.  I HAD to have a light source, if only a hall light peeking under my door.  I HAD to have my door LOCKED.  And, you know what?  In all honesty, besides the locked door, I still have to have all of these things in place or I’ll have a nightmare.  I can tell, within my dream, the moment my physical body rolls to my back.  It’s at that point in my dream that it turns dark, that the villain appears, that something terrible happens.  So I know where Eirinn is coming from.  Everything has to be exactly right or night time can be very, very unpleasant.

I don’t do a very good job at hiding my frustration.  When I see her come down the stairs, dragging her blanket, arms filled with plush, I can’t help but moan in annoyance “Eiriiiinn…”  As we walk back up the stairs, I mutter “why don’t you just leave your stuff upstairs?”  As I tuck her back in, I hiss “you need to stay in bed and go to sleep.”  I kiss her and hug her little tucked-in head and whisper “you’ll be alright.  I love you.”  And she will be.  Night time can be scary when your mind plays mean, cruel tricks against you; showing you dreadful things, speaking to you in voices that frighten and unnerve.  The only way to get through it, sometimes, is for everything else to be exactly the way it is supposed to be.  A place for everything and everything in its place.

Even if that means driving your mommy bananas in the process.


9 thoughts on “Everything In Its Place

  1. WE have this issue w the youngest – 7 yr old Carly aka The Goose. we think Goosey may have a mild form of asberger’s because she’s very OCD, doesn’t get sarcasm, loses her temper or gets upset when her routine is disrupted, and doesnt always consider human emotion.

    Goose has a bed time routine. If ANYTHING disrupts it, she freaks a bit. She’s not a bad kid and we understand her. Bobina and I arent always patient or sweet to her about it. I relate to this post A LOT. we just laid the Goose down for bed 10 minutes ago. There’s a strong possibility that the kitten will enter her room before she gets to sleep or she’ll remember something that need to go in her bookbag for school and we’ll see her tiny toes stepping down the stairs.

    • Yes! One of Eirinn’s wakings was because she wanted me to lay out her costume for a play she’s in in a week and a half. It was, apparently, URGENT that I organize what she’ll be wearing days from now.

  2. We hav three daughters who’ve insisted on sharing a room. Some nights it’s a cinch, other times the oldest, who like me can lay awake for hours even if it’s been days since she last slept, and our youngest, who never met a minute she didn’t want to live in the middle of, keep each other up. They do it in fun or in competition. Our middlest, Avery, can sleep on a bed of hot nails. I get so tired out by the relentlessness of the requests and shhhing.

    Some nights I give in and sidle up next to them for whispered conversation, other times I sit on the stairs and listen, others still I fight it. It’s hard not having peace at night.

  3. Thank you for this post… after leaving my sons room for the 700th time tonight, frustrated and snippy it feels good to not be alone. He is totally going through this stage, needs every stuffy just so, and has also added a nightlight and flashlight to his entourage to keep the scary thoughts away. His imagination is over active and he often wakes in the night lately scared. It’s heartbreaking, but everynight I ‘lie’ to him and assure him that bad people aren’t real. I love your idea of filling his head with a bunch of good things before bed. I’d like to think I do that kind of organically, but I’m definitely going to do it more purposefully tomorrow:)

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