Sleep and the art of getting your kid to stop talking to you.

Once upon a time, there was a child whom we adoringly refer to as “the boy”. He was a quiet fellow who would stare at you and silently judge you while eating his saltines and “nanners”. Because…well that’s what you do when you’re two: develop hyper-focused eating habits and judge everyone you meet.

Anyway, this kid was perfect. He played by himself and was able to use his imagination to play boxing or wrestling for hours with his stuffed toys. He allowed his mother to get work done or cook or clean when she was ever inclined to do so. Their relationship was awesome and often the envy of everyone in their immediate circle.

One day, the boy’s mother enrolled him in a school that encouraged his social and emotional development, because she realized that if this area of his personality wasn’t properly developed she might be raising the next Unabomber so she might want to do something about that soon.[1] Things went well at this school and the once reserved child who presented with behaviors that made his mother think he had Autism Spectrum Disorder[2] soon blossomed into a social butterfly.

The boy would come home and discuss all the wonderful things he learned at school and discussed with his friends and thought about telling her while he was at school but couldn’t because, well, he was at school. So the boy filled her in on all those thoughts she missed and talked and talked and talked until finally his mother threw herself out the basement window to end her misery. [3]

The end. 

The boy has grown into this wonderful and amazing extrovert who is able to socialize with anyone and discuss an array of topics even with strangers while standing in the immigration line at the airport. He has planned play dates with kids at the park and given them my number so that they can give it to their mother to plan.[4] He’s amazing and the school did exactly what I needed it to do during our time there. I couldn’t be more proud.

There’s only one problem. This boy’s mother is an introvert who doesn’t like people and values quiet and misses that silent, judgey child she once had. 

Emphasis on silent. 

So, as a defense mechanism I have developed strategies to get my child to stop talking to me and help take care of that ringing in my ears[5]. Now, these may or may not work for you, and I can’t really guarantee their efficacy with your own child, but they are definitely worth a try.

1. Pretending you’re asleep. I’ve done this on planes, trains, busses, hotel rooms, long Uber rides. It works 85% of the time. Hell, I did it last night. We were on the bus riding home from a friend’s sayonara party and he’s gabbing and sharing with me about how he didn’t know that Honda made motorbikes and he thinks it would be cool if you could modify motorbikes to have seat belts and he wonders how safe it would bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

I slowly “dozed” off on him until he turned from looking out the window and noticed I was gone and directed his conversation back to the window and his reflection.

Alternatively, I’ve pulled the covers over my head and played with my phone under. You have to be careful though. Your child will remove the covers and ask you to unlock the iPad or for food or something so you have to make sure they are set up before hand, otherwise they will just wake you up.

2. Electronics. Shameless, I know. I typically limit the use of electronics but when I need sleep or just some time alone, I unlock the iPad and send him to his room. I am not ashamed to say I have used this often and judge me if you want to. I couldn’t care less.

3. Just leave. Take the trash out. Walk the dog. Go stand in the backyard and pretend to count the blades of grass. Just sometimes the act of leaving the room helps. I don’t recommend this for toddlers and younger children. Aside from the fact that you can’t really leave them in rooms alone for the fear (or ever present danger) that they will injure themselves and/or set something on fire, they also tend to follow you.[6]

4. Going to the bathroom. Much like the MTV series The Real World, the bathroom is off limits to voyeurs in our house. Which makes this the perfect place get some peace and quiet. If you have two bathrooms in your house, even better! This reduces the risk that your child will ask to use the toilet while you’re in there. Some children try to talk to you through the door, but I have trained him early to not do that. That rules sticks about 50% of the time.

You can also turn on the shower. That sometimes signals that I’m actually in the shower and therefore can’t hear him when he’s trying to talk to me. I’ve often just sat in there and read a book wasting precious hot water and getting a glorious steam bath. I’ve often resorted to actually taking a shower as well because he tried to come in and say he had to “use it”.

Much like the previous suggestion. This one doesn’t really work for toddlers and younger children, as they don’t really care about your privacy and the bathroom is fair game for them.

5. Melatonin. This one works wonders. It’s a natural hormone in your body that allows you to gently fall asleep at your request. You can slip it in their juice or tea and they are off to la la land in a few minutes. Increasing the temperature in your house and playing calming music will often speed up the effects of this one as well. It’s an amazing option.[7]

Again, I can’t really say if any of these will work for you. But they have helped me salvage some of my sanity dealing with this crazy child on a daily basis. I love him to pieces, but I do often long for the days when I wished he would talk so I could take it all back. I’m kidding. I love him. He’s amazing. But I need sleep.

Footnotes for entertaining commentary:

[1] The boy’s mother is a psychologist and often worried about the psychosocial effect anything will have on him. This hyperbole was perfectly normal for her.

[2] This part is true. When he was younger, the boy was not very verbal, would be hyperfixed on certain toys and foods, and rarely socialized with anyone outside of me and my partner. He would flip out if anything changed in the schedule without notice and would become fixated on why it changed. I was legit worried for a while.

[3] You can’t actually throw yourself out the basement window. It was a joke. She did not commit suicide.

[4] Still working on social norms and stranger danger with this kid.

[5] You know the one. That high pitched ringing sound you get when you come home from a concert or a really loud bar. That one.

[6] Also, some county and state statues kinda talk about how you’re supposed to supervise your kids and can’t really leave them alone for periods of time otherwise it could result in investigations and whatnot. You might wanna research the laws in your respective states before trying this one.

[7] I’m kidding. Don’t give your kid melatonin, please. Or if you do, carefully read the label.

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One Comment

  1. I understand where you’re coming from. I too am an introvert raising an extrovert. The struggle is real. 🙂

    Like

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