I’ve been thinking about sleep. Wishful thinking, that is. I haven’t had much of it lately. And then I thought about all the tricks we pull out of our parenting hat in order to get some shut-eye from our offspring.
Like lullabies. Lovely soothing songs designed to send our little ones off to the land of nod. With nighttime imagery like the moon and the stars. Sheep are also popular. At least in the German versions.
I guess lullabies are a bit like bribery. As in “Look, I’ll sing you a little soothing song and you’ll fall asleep. Deal?” Little do you know that you have to enter into serious negotiations before this deal is closed. Like singing the lullaby again. And again. And again. Apparently at a later stage, infant negotiation skills evolve to include asking for a drink of water or wanting to go to the bathroom. Thankfully, we are not there yet.
The notion of bribery is particularly obvious in the English lullaby Hush, Little Baby offering all sorts of rewards for entering into peaceful slumber. Heck, I’d fall asleep for the promise of a diamond ring! I just hope for Rob’s sake Lilly never calls in hers. Or the dog named Rover. She’ll have to do with the dog named Jack.
Speaking of animals, I am wondering how the mothers of the animal kingdom deal with the matter of sleep. Do animals have an inbuilt instinct to rest? And if so, when in human evolution did that get genetically weeded out? I’m sure the average lion or tiger mummy doesn’t have to whip out the songbook to get her offspring to snooze. I’ve never sung a lullaby to Jack.
Maybe I’m not speaking for every parent here. I know a few babes who just drift off peacefully without a lot of song and dance. But judging by the fact that there’s a book entitled Go the Fuck to Sleep, I think most of us are affected at some time or another. Oh, and with lines like the followingThe cats nestle close to their kittens now The lambs have laid down with the sheep You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear Please go the fuck to sleep
I might mention that this book is aimed at the frustrated adult and not meant to be read to the child. Just in case you’re desperate for them to get the message.
Of course impatience and desperation, directly related to one’s own level of tiredness, are entirely unfavourable to achieving bedtime slumber. Basically, the more irritated you are, the less likely your little one will close his or her eyes. It’s a vicious circle.
So what is it with this resistance to sleep? When does sleep go from something that is to be resisted to something that is desirable? And please nobody say the teenage years because those seem to be awfully far away.
On that note, I’m off to the couch.