Sleepless in Whitby
There’s not a whole lot of writing on the subject of twins by fathers of twins. I’m not sure why this is, but I expect the reason will become clear to me after I’ve finished this piece and reread it – and sit stunned at the sheer, unadulterated banality of it.
I am the father of three-year old twin girls. The cutest darned things on the face of the planet, largely because they look like their mother. Even in the middle of the night these kids are cute, which I believe is an evolutionary mechanism, a sort of “survival of the cutest” — such cute-ness clearly evolved as a highly effective means of defusing the wrath of parents at three in the morning, when children refuse to sleep.
Here’s the thing: I am a man who lives for sleep. Sleep is what I do best, given the opportunity. I have been known to sleep thirty, forty hours a day. I banked as many hours of quality snoozing as I could in my youth, banked it like gold, golden slumber to be exact, in an heroic but ultimately vain attempt to prepare for the bleak, sleep impoverished future that lay in my not-too-distant future.
The situation is this. For several nights in a row our girls will sleep perfectly fine, cleverly lulling my wife and I into a false sense of security. Then, without warning, they will strike, invariably in the middle of the night before a Really Important Day — often a day requiring actual consciousness, a state I find difficult to maintain at the best of times.
If the girls would just stay in bed it wouldn’t be a problem — but they don’t, of course. They trick us into allowing them up, utilizing such clever tactics as the infamous “I Got to Go Pee-pee!” ploy. Many’s the time I’ve fallen for that one. Only after they’ve been sitting on the potty for the better part of an hour with nothing coming out – except maybe steam from out of my ears – do I clue in that maybe I’ve been had. I cajole them back into bed, and they’re right back at it five minutes later with a clever new ploy in a devilish cycle that my wife and I know only too well will continue throughout the night.
Now, don’t get me wrong. My wife and I love those little girls like nobody’s business and would never, ever consider the sort of radical action my own mother once took when I cried nonstop both day and night for three solid months following my birth, until mom, at the end of her rope, returned to the hospital and demanded that they take me back. (Fortunately, the hospital had a “no refunds or exchanges” policy in place.)
Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can lead to serious lapses in judgement. My wife informs me that being male can also lead to serious lapses in judgement. Combining the two is clearly a recipe for disaster. Sadly, as near as I can figure, when a child refuses to sleep there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. Oh, I know some people swear by Dr. Ferber’s famous method, and others take their children to bed with them, and still others have become inordinately fond of drugs and alcohol, but none of these solutions have worked for us (although we are enjoying the drugs and alcohol).
I remain optimistic, however. What may work in the end, I figure, is good old-fashioned patience. One day, those little girls of ours are going to be teen-agers. And if there’s one thing I know about teen-agers it’s that they like to sleep — ‘til noon if they can swing it. Of course, this would be a perfect opportunity to exact some sort of revenge –many parents, I’m sure, would derive enormous satisfaction from rousing their children at the crack of dawn, spouting silly aphorisms such as “the early bird gets the worm.” But my girls aren’t birds and possess no particular hankering for worms that I’m aware of, and revenge is not my style.
No, sleep is my style, and the more the better. If the day ever comes when my girls want to sleep ‘til noon, you won’t find me standing in their way. You won’t find me standing at all. You’ll find me two rooms over, snug in my own bed, sleeping ‘til noon right along with them.