The way my parents talk about it, going to bed is just a simple thing. They expect me to be able to just go upstairs, brush my teeth, get into my pyjamas and then hop into bed and fall asleep. But it’s not that easy. I can do the teeth and pyjamas thing. I am nine-years-old after all. But falling asleep? That’s never easy.
What I find is, that when I’m in bed, on my own, my mind just races. All this stuff comes into it. Some of it is about stuff that has already happened. I worry about things that I’ve said and what other people think of that. I worry about things I’ve done and how my teacher, or my friends might judge that. I worry too about stuff that is due to happen, like tests in school, or rugby matches, or whether I have my homework right.
I guess you can tell that I worry about lots of stuff. I never seem to not worry, and the night-times are the worst. At least in the day, I might be a bit distracted because there’s lots going on. I have two brothers and a sister, so our house is pretty busy.
When it comes to bedtime, though, I know all the thoughts will come to bother me. That’s why I often moan to my parents about bedtime being too early. It’s why I try to delay going to bed.
I’ve got some deadly strategies. My latest is remembering some “homework” that I haven’t done. Mam and Dad can do nothing about that, because they always say we have to do our homework. I can 10 or 15 minutes out of searching my bag and crying before eventually I’ll accept that I have it all done (which I knew from the start!).
The other thing I used to do was to go up to bed, but I’d take my lego out and make sure it was all over the floor when they came up to say my prayers. Cleaning up my floor could take ages too.
There was a time I used to keep getting out of bed after they turned out the light. I’d come back downstairs and I’d tell them I had a headache, or a tummy-ache, or that I was thirsty, or hungry. Sometimes I’d say I was scared of the dark, or of monsters or burglars. I’d loads of reasons for coming down to them. I can be smart when I want.
Some nights they’d be nice about it and bring me back up. They even might snuggle into the bed with me. That’s like hitting the jackpot! I love that. It’s easy to go to sleep if I can cuddle one of them. It just feels safe if you know what I mean.
Some nights, though, they just get cross. That’s when my plan backfires. I get really upset those nights, because not only do I get scared, but then I’m afraid that my parents have stopped loving me. Sometimes they might hear me cry and come up and then they are nice again. But it’s just hard.
We have a new plan these days. Mam or Dad will come up with me at bedtime when I’m all ready. They stay and chat for about 10 minutes. I love that time. Just me and one of them. Brilliant. Then they say my prayers and turn out the light. But…they also promise to come back up and check on me every five minutes. And they do. I really like this new system. I try to keep awake for the visits, but its getting harder and harder. For some reason I’m falling asleep sooner. It’s always nice to know they are keeping me in mind. I like that. It’s comforting.
As imagined by David Coleman
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