Counting sheep, or sleep…I can’t remember which

What does tiredness look like?

Sleep Deprivation, you ol’ Devil…

My son is 18 months old and has never slept through. Very occasionally he only wakes once, but usually it’s 2-3 times.

I find that if I can get a block of 3 hours’ straight sleep, I’m fine. Although, when I say ‘fine’, I, of course, mean can vaguely function without turning into a screaming, weeping mess.

We recently went through a phase of 2-hourly wakings. That was a killer. I woke up each morning feeling more tired than when I went to bed. I felt like a zombie as I went through the rituals of breakfast, driving to appointments and trying to invent lunch. I dreaded being stopped at the rail crossing – the rhythmic clanging almost lulled me into a doze.

I know there’s sleep training out there. I know he’s much older than a lot of other kiddies that sleep through. I know that if he slept through, I’d get more sleep and life would be sooooo much better. But here’s the thing. I’ve tried sleep training before and I hated it. I don’t really need advice on what I should be doing, because, to me, what I should be doing is loving my kid and making sure he knows he’s safe, secure and loved. I think I’m doing that alright.

Kids have been waking up during the night since…well….since kids were ever around. The difference is, we used to live communally for survival, so you’d have help at hand.Even a couple of generations ago, there’d usually be a maiden aunt on hand to give you a break.

So instead of advice, just give me (or any other poor sleep-deprived parent you know) a hug and let me know that this phase will pass.

Don’t make us feel like we’re doing this to be martyrs – we’re not. Don’t start a sentence with “You should try-” because there are better ways at offering help. Frankly, the idea of changing any sort of routine or method of getting kids to sleep differently at this stage just makes me anxious.

I just have to keep repeating my frazzled mantra – “I’m doing the right thing for us and we have lovely, wonderful kids – sleep will come”.

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Bending Gender 2

photo courtesy of http://www.lubirdbaby.com

Being female and experiencing sexism in various guises over the years, I’m acutely aware of things that affect my daughter. I don’t want her thinking she has to play with dolls, avoid physical activities, or adhere to certain expectations just because she happens to be a girl. I’d love for her to grow up feeling strong and courageous enough to be herself, and to stand up for herself when facing sexism or sexual harassment, etc. Until I wrote my first Bending Gender post, though, I hadn’t really thought about the sexism that my son faces.

I’m talking sexism in it’s milder forms – comments and assumptions – that are not intended to harm, but could probably play a role, or a support role, in shaping how kids act and what they choose to play with.

For example, in one day I noted various comments that were made to, or in front of, him from a couple of different people:

“You’re such a mummy’s boy, aren’t you?” (in response to him wanting a cuddle from me)

“He’s such a boy – climbing up everything, little trouble-maker” (even though my daughter did the same thing at that age)

“Don’t forget he’s male – he can only do one thing at a time” (I found this one a bit insulting!)

“No, you don’t want that, here, play with your truck” (phew! that princess dress would’ve tainted any future manliness for sure)

Now, I’ll admit, they’re tame comments that certainly meant no harm. My son’s not going to seek therapy for them down the track. Yet they do buy into the role that males are supposed to play in our society, and at a very early age. These little comments, and all the other influences around him, help to shape what toys he chooses, what games he’ll play, how he’ll treat other kids, and his own view of what it is to be a male.

I guess this is all very “well, duh” to people. I don’t know. Battle of the sexes differences has always irked me. I don’t like to just identify myself with being female – I feel part of a bigger community. I guess I feel protective of my kids – I want them to be the ones that do the choosing for themselves, who decide what they enjoy, rather than feeling they have to fit in with other people’s expectations. To have generalisations and societal labels describing them at such a young age just seems wrong to me. Especially because kids are so impressionable & eager to please.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never really felt that I’ve managed to work out what I’m about – I hate pigeon-holing myself as a certain personality type, or having particular characteristics, because, really, they change depending on my mood. Maybe it’s because I resent other people telling me what they think I should do with my life, or those of my children. Maybe it’s because I just enjoy watching these beautiful little personalities discover and learn and I know I’ll love them no matter how they turn out.

Parents react differently when their babies are mistaken for the other sex. Some are indignant, some are fine. Strangers are apologetic when they ask ‘boy or girl?’ Most babies under one or two could really pass as either, though, couldn’t they?

Isn’t it more interesting to observe their personalities grow, rather than put them in the girl or boy box? Or are we too lazy to pepper small-talk with anything other than generalisations about boys and girls?

And, hey, I’m guilty of generalisations, too! It is an automatic conversation-filler sometimes. How do we break out of it, though?