November 11, 2010
The Paradoxes of Sleep
My mother always woke us up gently in the morning. I try to emulate her today when I wake my own children for school. Waking them up is one of the highlights of my day, as is the closing act of tucking them in bed in the evening.
Waking them takes time. I carefully nudge them or affectionately kiss them. I anticipate their day for them, remind them of those things that they had been looking forward to, of their breakfast that is ready for them or of the activity or party they would be attending that day. I dress the younger ones in bed, with their eyes half closed still.
Sometimes, my youngest will argue and refuse to wear a shirt, a certain style, or will request the "Naruto" tshirt too frequently. In the next bedroom, my daughter often reminds me of things, such as how a dress would not be appropriate for sports that day. Her hair is disheveled as I apply SPF on her face, protection from Dubai's warm sun.
There is a Murphy's Law which applies to my children however. I call it the "weekend paradox". How can you explain that on weekends the children will wake up on their own, very very early and that weekdays, I have to convince them to get out of bed? It is analogous to the honeymoon paradox. When I travel alone with my husband, I imagine myself deliciously catching up on lost sleep, as the children aren't there to wake me up at the break of dawn. But because I am so relaxed during these childless vacations, I find myself jumping out of bed early, and eager to start the day with my husband and all the fun that our trip promises us.
I actually can't even remember what sleeping in feels like. In French, the term "grasse matinee" has no other equivalent, but means to sleep deeply into the late morning hours as the sunlight tries hard to stir you from your slumber. Another Murphy's Law is "the Summer paradox". Most humans vacation in the Summer when the days are long, bedtimes delayed, and when the sun rises high, early in the morning. Why can't vacations be for those cold wintery dark mornings, the ones we face every day of the academic year?
Waking up in boarding school was a whole new experience considering my seasonal shock, having moved to Switzerland from Dubai! Instead of my mother's sweet whispers was the supervisor knocking her clinical knocks on my door till I pronounced my "bonjour mademoiselle", on freezing dark mornings! Then I would wear the many layers that kept me warm, and checked that all my schoolwork was ready before heading to the main campus cafeteria.
My husband and I have not slept soundly for many years now. He often wakes up for his regular trips to Kabul at the wee hours, and gets dressed in a house still drowsy with snores and dreams. I am glad my children have now passed the crib stage when, no matter how well scheduled, they would wake up at random hours of the night and make their various requests: feeding, changing, nightmares etc. I have literally slept walked to them and remember peering through my windows, into the stillness of the Geneva night or the active nocturnal Dubai traffic.
REM, a preferred band, selected a sleep related terminology as a name. I can sympathize. There is nothing more delicious than sleep. I can see it when I covery my kids one more time before heading off toward my own night of slumber.