First, a little background information for you, before I can share my Notable Moment in Exceptional Parenting. Get ready. Aaand…go.
In the past year or thereabouts, we've gotten into the habit of reading longer chapter books to Henry at bedtime. We read "The Wizard of Oz," "Stuart Little," and so on. At some point he spied a volume of "A Series of Unfortunate Events" at the library and we were then coerced into reading all thirteen volumes of those. When we were done, Scott told Henry, "If you liked a Series of Unfortunate Events, my son, you're sure to love Harry Potter." I wondered if the books were too mature for him, but after all, he had just read thirteen books about orphans—surely a few more wouldn't hurt. Right? So we started reading Harry Potter, which he went bonkers over, as Scott predicted he would.
After we read to him, Henry likes a little music while he drops off. Generally this is something benign and classical, but recently he's become enamored with the Star Wars soundtrack, so Scott let him listen to it. (This is an important point: Scott. Scott hit "play." Not to point any fingers. Except for the one I'm pointing. At Scott. Hi, sweetie!) Once again, I wondered, is this too much to listen to while you're trying to go to sleep? But my family pshawed my hesitation. "I love it, Mom!" insisted my son, and my husband was all, "Shut up, dipshit, I know what a boy likes." ("Dipshit" is his affectionate nickname for me.)
So! A few days before the Christmas break, Henry's teacher called me over. It seemed that my boy had been sort of moody and sullen for the past two weeks, often complaining that he was tired and achy, and not participating in the class with the joie de vivre for which he is known. This was unlike Henry, who has been, objectively speaking, the valedictorian of his kindergarten class up until that point. They win these chips for good behavior—poker chips? Corn chips? I'm not sure—and he had won approximately 2 billion chips in the first few weeks. He does well. Or, at least, he did.
"Is he getting enough sleep?" his teacher asked, and I immediately realized that was the problem. For the past couple of weeks, his sleep had been terrible. He was driving us nuts, calling to us and asking for drinks of water and conversation and hugs. Hugs! Kids are so demanding. But what, in the past couple of weeks, could be keeping him up all night?
I bet you can guess! Come on! I'll give you a minute.
In the number of seconds it took to walk from the teacher to Henry, who was kicking at some leaves and grumbling to himself, I had it figured out. The kid was being read Harry Potter and then listening to the Darth Vader theme in the dark and he couldn't sleep because he was terrified. Some clues might have been all that talk about thinking scary thoughts and having bad dreams about ghosts. Way to go, genius parents!
I walked over to Henry, who was kicking at a pile of leaves and grumbling. "I'm in trouble," he declared.
"No, she's just worried," I said. "Is something making you unhappy?"
"I just couldn't do gym because my legs were tired." His voice was all shaky.
"I'm thinking… I'm thinking we need to get you to bed earlier. And cut out Harry Potter."
"That's a good idea, "he said.That's a good idea?
"And let's listen to something more relaxing than Star Wars, when you're trying to sleep."
He thought about that for a minute. "You're right," he said. "I need to be soothed."
And then I threw myself into a snowbank and waited for Death to come and relieve me from the crushing guilt.
Thus ends another Notable Moment in Exceptional Parenting. I hope this helps you feel better about your own parenting skills, which are undoubtedly more refined than ours.