The luminous digital bedside clock says 01:00. I know, because I’m wide away nursing my right cheek bone with ice. "Oh, that’s going to be one heck of a bruise" I think to myself. Without making a sound, I turn around and glare at the culprit. He’s sprawled on his back, his arms folded behind his head as if he’s lying on beach chair in Hawaii. His legs are still twitching, probably as the result of the after-shock from having connected with my now bruised cheek. I glare at him, almost willing him to go for Round Two. Oblivious to my taunts, a slow whistle escapes his parted lips. I sigh, and get back into bed, contorting my body into weird angles, and try to catch a quick nap before the next attack. Welcome to Parenthood! Oh, and not to mention, the joys and tortures of co-sleeping with your baby. Now, just to make sure we don’t go off in a tangent and start to argue about whether or not co-sleeping is good for your child, let me put a huge disclaimer. I neither advocate nor condemn co-sleeping. Enough and more research has been done on the topic and there are two explicit sides to this argument. As for us, we’ve tried both, and due to a lot health-related concerns, we decided to stick it out with co-sleeping. Atleast for now. But the way things are going, that’s bound to change soon.
Co-sleeping with your kids, especially a toddler, is an art. And along with millions of other parents, I demand that it be recognised as one. To really understand what I’m talking about, you must have slept with the enemy, which ironically in this case, is your beloved off-spring. There are a number of positions that “the enemy” adopts to make sure he/she (or god bless you - THEY) can inflict maximum discomfort whilst they themselves enjoy this little game, so to speak. Of course, keeping with the “law of individuality”, each of them may have different preferences for warfare methodologies. And they change. As they grow, it gets worse before it gets better. So have some sympathy for us parents who due to reasons that cannot be revealed, have no other option, apart from to co-sleep with the enemy.
Mine, for example, started off with the “I don’t care about you” phase, where he’d just lie in a corner and not move around at all. To be honest, this was bliss. We were just less than a year into our parenthood at that point, and hence most of our information was gathered from the internet and parenting books. And not one of them mentioned this phase. Needless to say, that was the end of the “parenting by the book” phase for us. And as a new parent, I would find myself getting up frequently in the middle of the night, just to make sure he was breathing, and wonder to myself why he wasn’t moving around as they said in the books. Well, that lasted for approximately 4 weeks. You’d have thought we managed to get some sleep then, right? Oh no, we were still disturbed every now and then, for the feed.
That phase soon stopped and gave way to the “If you’re not coming to bed with me, then you have no space here” phase. Strangely enough this ultimatum did not come from my wife, but from my 12 month old son. I’m often the last person to go to sleep in my family. So by the time, I eventually make my way to the bed, I’m dead tired. Having to partake in a power struggle to reclaim my side of the bed was not something I was prepared to indulge in. So as parents do, well most of the time anyway, I quickly gave up my “night-time endeavours” (not what you think!) and joined the family in bed before it was too late. But here’s the part I still don’t understand. How can someone so small, take up so much of space? It truly defies all known laws.
But the troubles didn’t end there. Now that I was going to bed around the same time as him, he needed to up the game a bit. What’s more, we re-arranged the bed in such a way that one of the sides of the bed was adjacent to the wall. And then we shifted him to one of the corners which was brilliant in a lot of ways. For me, anyway. It meant that not only could I lie next to my wife (stop smirking!), I was completely away from him. But as some bright and intelligent person once said, never put doing the impossible past a kid, especially toddler.
Since then, we’ve been through :
- the “Bridge” phase, where he lies horizontally between my wife and me, effectively shutting us away;
- the “Over the face” phase, where he lies over my face/neck, sometimes drooling all over my neck, other times, just suffocating me;
- the “I like your hair in my mouth” phase, where he twirls the strands of my wife's hair with his little fingers and then shoves it into his mouth; Fortunately I escaped this phase.
- the “I’ve got my eyes on you” phase, where he suddenly sits up in the middle of night, and observes you like a hunter stalking his prey; Trust me, it really freaks you out if you happen to get up and see this.
And now we’re currently in the “inverted phase”, where somehow he invariably ends up lying in a direction opposite to us, so his feet are “scarily close” to our faces. "How bad could it be?" I hear you ask. This phase also incorporates the “Ninja phase” as we call it, where he feels compelled by some un-seen force to throw some savage kicks, which unfailingly always finds its mark - me.
As the clock nears the bewitching hour, I better wrap this post up, eat my dinner and rush to bed before I lose my spot. I guess Charles Darwin knew what he was saying when he said “It is not the strongest nor the most intelligent of the species that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”. He was obviously a parent :)