Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Good night, sleep tight!

I thank my mother for sharing with me the following tidbit: In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes, the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase...'Goodnight, sleep tight'. The "don't let the bed bugs bite" part must have been added by a modern day New Yorker.

Without knowing the quaint historical background behind the bedtime exchange, it was adopted in my household, like so many others, ages ago. The only problem is that when we're done with the exchange, nobody goes to sleep. It's never worked. When our kids were younger they tried all the typical tactics to evade bedtime, like asking for water or another story or one more goodnight kiss or insisting every family member share their favorite part of the day. Mercer Mayer's Little Critter book, Just Go to Bed, a favorite of our kids when they were younger, was our reality.

Somewhere along the line, our kids decided bedtime was merely a guideline and we've been tremendously ineffective at dispelling that notion. I'm not sure why. I'm pretty sure I yell, "JUST GO TO BED" at the top of my lungs several times each night. Nobody flinches. Maybe they realize I'm yelling because I'm tired and I want to go to bed and figure it has little to do with them. They wouldn't be entirely wrong. But what is it about staying up late that is so appealing? Is it that they're afraid to go to sleep or think they might miss something if they do? Sometimes it might actually be that they're just not tired but I get the sense that our kids never really stop to ask themselves that question. I remember feeling so cool as a kid whenever I got to stay up late and I remember bragging about my first all-nighter when I got older. Of course, there's nothing truly fun or cool about staying up late but it's just one of those things you accept as truth when you're young, know is ridiculous when you're older and don't stop to think about in between. Trying to stay up later than you should is simply a rite of passage. Like in so many other cases, it helps to remember that our children's role is to push the envelope and the parents' role is to push back and say no.

Speaking of sleep, though it has nothing to do with sleep, per se, teens may enjoy Angela's Morrison's Sing Me to Sleep. The protagonist is described as an unattractive girl with a beautiful voice whose turn from the Beast into the Beauty brings her both love and complication.

1 comment:

  1. Dec. 15, 2010 Ottawa, Ontario K1H 7B8
    My dearest Robin, As you unsatiably exhort your readers, keep on ... Your blogs, however,
    I peruse. I haven't looked this up lately in Webster's, but my sense is that it pertains to more than "just reading" -- more to searching for motives, aims, themes of relevance, and simply how I've been going about writing of late. My lengthiest [?] was the Tubby Legend;
    usually, it has been a remark, a controversy or an opinion that brought out the skeptic in me,
    more often a statement such as: "Well ... that's the way it's done!" (My rhetoric and causticism recently came out when the author
    (Abraham Verghese - "Cutting for Stone") was written up in the NY Times, deploring the "dying
    art of the physical exam" (replaced by tests, MRI's, etc) much as I have bemoaned the Dying
    practice of the 'house call'.
    So, too, your mini-essays -- very personal, but this adds to the deeper wisdom you relate. While you are writing about Kyla,
    don't forget to mention your usual admonition to "stop laughing! while you are still telling your story." Cute! But VERY memorable for me.
    I would like to hear what your girls thought of the Tubby story and my request for ideas for the next 4 chapters of his 'odyssey'.
    Keep on, Robin. Your messages are reaching this far north and the 'heart-warming' they induce is most welcome. With love, David