Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Last Night...

Last night, before we got in bed, Anette changed V.'s diaper. But this woke V. up, and so the kid commenced with the screaming. After she settled down, we adults fell asleep, though not before I insisted, muttering, that we have to do something about these nights.

A few hours later, Adinah woke up and came over to our room three times, before Anette told her to get into bed with me. My wife moved to the green couch in the ballroom.

At about 1 a.m., and then again at around three, from the depths of Slumberland, I heard V. erupting again in her crib. It always starts the same way: she wakes up and calls "Mommy!" until one of us mommies wakes up and gives her a bottle of milk, tea or water. But sometimes V. cries out "Nein! NEIN!!" and she is almost...inconsolable. Great torrents of anger and fear exploding out of our baby girl. Sometimes we can talk her down. Sometimes we shout back.

Anette will go to V. three or four times throughout the night. Until they're both exhausted. The screams wake up everyone else all over again. We all get sleep, but no rest.

Sometimes I think Euro Like Me should be called a 'slog'--short for sleep log--because I'm always complaining about our bus station nights. (And I apologize for that, dear reader.) But I honestly don't know when V. will settle down and sleep through the night. When she will finally really feel safe. Somehow she must still be so scared and troubled about the world.

Maybe--likely--her night screaming has something to do with the fact that she's just started kindergarten. She's there Monday through Friday, 9 am to 2 pm, and that must be a long time away from us. Every morning, she tries to be brave and strong when she says goodbye to Anette or me, but her lower lip starts trembling anyway.

Or maybe our life is just too un-routine for her. Some afternoons she's with our babysitter Rosa, sometimes with me, sometimes with Anette's niece. Maybe she just doesn't know who's the real mommy....No, I'm sure she knows.

But, well, Anette and I both have to work. Try explaining that to a two-year old.

She's come a long way in the year that she's been living with us. But I think the night is still very dark and frightening for V. So our house may be unquiet for a while longer.


Flashtrigger said...

Sometimes I wish that the circumstances were perfect in that V. was old enough to understand, so that I could sit her down and explain to her that things in her Before times aren't still waiting in the shadows to attack her. It took me 25 years to figure it out and I read these posts from you and feel sad not only for her, but also for the rest of your family (you included) because I know it's got to wear on you immensely.

cliff1976 said...

This post almost brought me to tears on V's behalf.

I hope she'll thank you later. Coming from me, it can't count for much, but I'm thanking you now.

pat said...

Thank you both for your support. These things aren't just for kids--tonight it's me who can't sleep, just because I'm stewing in something stupid that happened at work. But uncle George Clinton said, no matter what's bugging you, "It'll all be better by Tuesday." here's hoping, and thanks again.

Tricia Mitchell said...

Pat, have you tried play therapy with V.?

Tricia Mitchell said...

Pat, have you tried play therapy with V.?

pat said...

Well I get goofy with V. all the time (you know me, Trish) but I gather you're talking about an actual school of therapy, so no, we haven't tried that. Can you recommend a book or some online reading about play therapy? Thanks!

Tricia Mitchell said...

Pat, I'm so remiss! I never checked back for your reply to my comment.

I will ask our pal Donna for book recs. I don't think I follow the text books, but then again, I'm not a professional therapist!

Definitely get down on the floor. Create a time--some say 30 minutes a day--where she gets to make the rules and you just follow her and verbalize whatever she does. Like "Oh, now you're pushing the car and going over there." "You're having trouble getting that off." If she wants you to play, you ask her how--"You want me to put the water on the flower?" "Like this?"

All of that creates a zone of play where she knows she's safe and knows she's going to get to be in charge. Then, if I were you, I'd start to "play" around her trauma. A lot of times I use stuffed animals to help my kids work out hard feelings. I try to replicate the relationship the kid is acting out.

In your situation, definitely there would be a small bunny or dog or somebody who wakes up at night, and there would be a bear or giraffe who gets up to help. I would start to play this game and say, "Oh no, Bunny woke up again! Bunny is so scared and lonely. Bunny, you better yell for help." And then I'd act out the bear bringing the bottle and then say, "But Bunny is SO ANGRY! She says "Nein! Nein!" Or whatever. Try to put words on feelings, and try to explain the reasons behind the behavior.

With my kids when we do this around some very emotionally charged issue, they want to play the game again and again. Sometimes they will modify the game and I always follow their lead. Play gives kids a way to gain mastery over the feelings, to experiment and process without it being so charged. They will learn to internalize your acceptance of the feelings, vs. a middle of the night situation where they're already upset and then have to also deal with you getting upset.

Please let me know if you have any more questions!

Hugs to you and your Yittle Ones!

pat said...

Thanks so much Tricia!! That sounds like a good idea. I would actually have fun working on this that way. I'll let you know how it goes......best, P.

Tricia Mitchell said...

Pat, I forgot to say that you should enlist V. as your resident expert and try to solicit her help on what to do. Like say, "Oh no, Bunny is still so upset! V., what do you think is wrong? Is Bunny sad? Is she angry? What do you think we should try to help her feel better? Would it make her feel safe if we hold her?" (but obviously, not all of these questions in a row, or she'll think you're a panicky freak!) :)