My Kids

The Call of the Wild Julia

I really wish Julia slept.  I mean, she sleeps, but she doesn’t zonk out for a solid 10 hours like her brother does.  Of course, he didn’t always sleep like this either, so I’m hoping this is just a phase.  A long, endless, coffee-necessitating phase.

Two nights ago around 2:30 in the morning, Julia started calling "Mommmmmmyyyyy….Mommmmyyyyy…."  She, like the birds and other wild creatures, has different tones that indicate different things.  In this instance, it’s kind of a blend of Moan and Whine with a bit of Crabby Girl stirred in.  I go into her room and see what I expect to see when I hear that sound:  she is in her bed, eyes shut, on her side, blanket on the floor, and her legs and arms swim in arcs across the surface of her purple Dora sheets.  She is in constant motion, 3/4 asleep, and in need of something.  She doesn’t know what it is.

I try.  "Do you need your blanket back on?" I ask, tucking it around her swishing legs.

"Nooooooooooooooooooooo" she Moans/Whines in sleepy irritation.

"Do you need to go potty?"

An insult, apparently. "NOOOOOoooooooooooooo, I don’t need to go pottttttyyyyyyyy!"  She sort of sounds like a ghost too.  She keeps writhing slowly, like a willow tree in a brewing storm.

"Are you thirsty?"  This is it – it’s usually one of these three things.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!"  She thrashes around now, and somehow works herself sideways across her toddler mattress, jamming herself temporarily between the back of the former-crib-now-big-girl-bed and the safety rail in front. 

I try sense.  (Apparently I lack any myself.)  "Okay, Julia, if you aren’t going to tell me what the problem is, I’m going back to bed."

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO"  More thrashing and flailing.  The storm’s picking up.  "I DON’T WANT YOU TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO"

"Julia, you need to be quiet, you’re going to wake up Alex and Daddy."  (Like she cares.)  "Now what’s the matter?"

I try the three main questions again, all of which anger her more, and she becomes louder and more thrashy.  She turns a complete circle, lying on one side – sort of like Donald O’Connor did on his arm in the "Make ‘Em Laugh" scene of Singin in the Rain.  But there’s no laughing here.

I start to leave.  I’m tired.  She screams "NO MOMMMMYYYYYYYY" and, obedient puppet that I am, I swoop back to the crib and hiss at her to be quiet. 

She just gets louder, and I’m tired of standing bent over the bed, so I say "Okay, we’re going downstairs."  Which is something she normally would love to do in the middle of the night, but since it wasn’t her idea, then no, it is not a good idea.  She shrieks.  "I DON’T WANNA GO DOWNSTAIRS!" I pick her up and she is heavy with sleep and her eyes are still mostly shut and she starts writhing and flailing and I don’t even know how to describe the sound of her voice except by saying things like "banshee" and "angry bird" and "Janis Joplin."  Alex, at this point, sits bolt upright in his bed and starts to cry, terrified, no doubt, by the demon in his room.  I tell him kindly to go back to sleep as I carry the wild animal out the door.  She is still shrieking "NO! NO! I DON’T WANNA GO DOWNSTAIRS!" and trying to escape, which makes going down two flights of stairs a bit challenging, but we make it to the basement and I put her on the floor and go sit on the couch to wait it out.

She is a tiny monster, her dark blond hair seems to wave around her head like Medusa’s snakes, and she glares at me from beneath her bangs.  If she had fangs, she would bare them.  Instead, she continues to shriek at me and tremble with sleepy rage. 

I just watch.  Because I want to laugh and that wouldn’t be good.  But it’s hard to be frightened of a banshee in pajamas that have oversized pink and purple flowers all over them. 

Perhaps feeling hampered by these benign garments, my little fireball suddenly – still glaring at me, swiftly REMOVES HER PAJAMA BOTTOMS AND HURLS THEM ACROSS THE ROOM!  SO THERE!  She waits to see if I react.  I don’t, because I really have to fight to keep from laughing at that little display.  So she looks around and finds a yellow plastic bowl from her play kitchen set, and throws that.  Interestingly, she sees a plastic play knife but does not throw that.  I guess this is all just for show and she has no real interest in bloodshed tonight.

Since the throwing isn’t having any effect on me, she shouts "I’M GOING BACK TO MY BED!" at me and heads for the stairs.  I cut her off, and plant myself a few steps up and say, calmly "You need to calm down."

"I DON’T WANNA CALM DOWN!" she shrieks and falls to the floor and flails and wriths and screeches and then it starts…the shrieking begins to change, and the face crumples some, and she starts crying now, and finally the end is in sight, and she is no longer the scary banshee…she is just a tired little girl who was in some strange half and half state of wakeful and sleepy and now she just wants to be one place or the other…so she cries, and I pick her up and hold her for a while…and we just hang out there in the middle of the darkened living room until we are no longer wild animal and observer, but child and mommy.

She goes back to bed pretty soon after that, and the rest of the night is fine.

Now, last night right around 2:30 again, I was awakened by a loud and sad "MOMMY!  MOMMMMYYYY!" – a different sound from the moaning/whining one.  I went into the room and "Mommy, I fell out of my beddddd!" she wails from the floor.  She is tangled in her Dora blanket and not hurt, but not all that thrilled either.  I get her untangled and back to bed pretty quickly.

And then about 5:00 or so this morning it comes again:  "MOMMY!  MOMMMYYYY!!!!!!!!!!" And I go in again, expecting to see the same purple and blond lump on the floor, but no, she is in her bed, and crying. 

"Julia!  What’s wrong???" I ask.

"Daddy ate my cheeseburger!" She wails.

I bring her into our bed, show her that no, Daddy is sleeping and didn’t eat her cheeseburger, and she falls back to sleep, snug between us.  Peace.

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