To the misery of their parents, children don’t always believe in sleep. Why go to bed when there are so many things to play with, talk about, whine over or explore?
Most parents, like me, have concocted some clever schemes to get their children to bed when they just aren’t interested in doing so. Older brats can understand simple commands, and it’s hard to feel sympathy for their tears when you’re deprived of rest.
Younger children are harder. With babies and toddlers, there isn’t always an easy answer. Some of us have strapped their little booger in their car seats and gone for a drive. It doesn’t always work, but it’s fairly effective.
It didn’t work when my now four-year-old passed the year mark. My first child was sent from wherever babies come from as a ploy. A scheme to ensure I was confident in my parenting ability, a dirty trick to give me the good one first and think that’s as hard as babies get.
My second son Sam came into this world screaming and didn’t stop until he was three. There was no medical reason for it. There was no discomfort he had, no problems except being unable to tell us why he insisted on driving his parents mad.
We had to get extra creative to convince him sleep was the correct choice when he switched off his adorable nature to yell because he was tired and didn’t understand why.
Car rides? Sometimes, rarely. Rocking? No, that didn’t help. A bottle? No, he ate well already. Well, what do we do? He’s a year-and-a-half old and eventually the neighbors will think we’re torturing him.
To give his mom a break one night, I carried him outside. All kids love the outdoors, but no one as much as Sam. He had seen it all before, but the way he took it all in was like the first time, every time. He’d quiet down and I’d pace the front yard like a madman at 1 a.m. just to keep the sights fresh.
When the yard, street, trees and dirt stopped being fascinating, I only had one direction to go. Up.
It was a mostly cloudless night, but light pollution meant we could only see a few stars. I picked the biggest object in the sky and, with no other plan, pointed and told him all about the moon.
I’ll never forget the next thing he said. It was so eloquent for his age.
Two minutes later he was asleep, and I had found a new ally in my fight against sleep deprivation. We’d go out just to look at it sometimes, even before bedtime, just for fun.
Childlike wonder at any and everything is an incredible sight to behold. You get to see another thing like you experience the world, seeing things for the first time. Marveling at sights rarely seen. It’s bittersweet.
Looking back on it I have to ask myself. When was the last time I ever looked at anything the way my son looked at the moon?
As we age the novelty of our surroundings fades — the sharp edges of beauty dulled by familiarity. We develop adult problems, adult responsibilities. It’s the height of human stupidity that at first we welcome it. All we ever wanted was to grow up.
As our burdens stack, there are fewer wonders to be seen. The child goes away. We say he is dead. Gone forever, just like our innocence.
Some things, however, cannot die.
The child inside is just locked away, waiting for his moment to come back out and marvel again. I’d seen the moon countless times before that night, before I showed it to Sammy. Looking at it then, with him, I understood again. It’s a massive ball of rock orbiting in sync with us thousands upon thousands of miles away. It’s the reason the oceans behave the way they do. It’s so familiar, yet still an enigma. We’ve been there, a couple of us, but outside of photos we’ll never see the back of it. It’s inspired deities, legends, myths and was our first and still only stop in our species-wide quest for the stars.
I mean, how incredible is that when you really stop and think about it?
Don’t worry, if you think all that was boring, it’s because you’re hiding that child away (or you’re just an awful person what do I know?).
That kid isn’t dead, he’s just buried under a mountain of bills, stress and a body that seems to age faster the older you get.
Do me a favor, heck, do yourself a favor. Let him out every now and then. There are still wonders to be had, and that’s this week’s small victory.
JESSE JONES is the editor of The Eagle Post, a member of the Kentucky New Era Media Group. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to enter into his $10,000 Monopoly cash giveaway.