Goodbye to the Boxes

For the past two weeks I’ve been letting my children sleep in boxes. I guess I was thinking they’d get tired of it sooner. Well, they did get tired…

Or I should say, Mary got tired. Ethan’s earned the nickname Jack in the Box, because when we tell him it’s time to wake up, he jumps out of his box, says his prayers, and is ready for school with his breakfast eaten and lunch made in a matter of minutes.

Mary? Not so much. She’s always been harder to wake up, but the past few weeks have been ridiculous. Still I figured by the time we had her dressed and fed each morning, she seemed ok.

But this morning I walked into her classroom to volunteer, and Mary was completely out of it. I asked her teacher if she’d been like that all day, and found out she’d been like that for SEVERAL days. She was going to send a note to me about it if Mary’s haze continued into the next week. I attributed it to the decongestant I’ve given her the past several mornings (though it says non-drowsy).

Jared, on the other hand, thinks it’s the boxes, that and the fact that Mary just seems to need more sleep than her brother. I’m sad we hadn’t noticed anything sooner. She has been complaining that her “imagination is on vacation” but that at least her memory “didn’t run off with it”. We’d told her just the fact that she says things like that means her imagination is alive and well, but she doesn’t believe us.

So tonight on the way home from Carl’s Junior, we discussed bedtimes. Ethan’s been begging to get to stay up till 9 on school nights. We’d settled on 8:30 for him. But this will be the last night they get to sleep in boxes. Which of course was met with some resistance. Conversation between the kids and their dad:

“But you promised you’d let us sleep in the boxes till you got sick of it!”

“Guys, it’s been TWO WEEKS already. When are you two going to get sick of them?”

“Probably when we’re teenagers.”

“But that was before it started affecting Mary at school. Mary, It’s been VERY hard to wake you up in the mornings. Ethan just pops up out of the box and gets himself ready for school. Ethan, I have to commend you for that. I’m very impressed. But Mary, it’s been so hard to wake you up, and now I find out you’re spacing out at school, and YOU…”

(she bursts into tears) “Oh Daddy! Stop it! Do you have to rub it in!?”

“Rub what in?”

“When you sit there and talk about ALL the wonderful things Ethan does that I can’t do, it makes me SO jealous, it almost makes me wish I didn’t have a brother!”

“OH! I’m sorry, I didn’t even realize I was doing that.”

“Then I have an idea…. why don’t you try to tell Ethan how great he is when I’m not around to hear about it? Then he’ll be happy, and I won’t feel like crying.”

Yeah, she’s six, without the teen at the end. My goodness! I think my parents would have been furious had I talked to them that way, but we’re learning that it’s actually a great thing to be able to really express how you feel. And they were all reconciled before they’d even got through the front door. Mary’s last comment on the matter?

“Remember when I told you I wanted to start going to bed at 7:30, and you thought it was such a lame idea? Well now you know the HORROR of me being too tired at school! So I’m asking again, can I PLEASE go to bed at 7:30?” Seven thirty it is.

And I’m trying to decide whether the fact that they practically parent themselves is a good thing or a bad thing. What do you think?

On a total side note: We had a blast at Carl’s Junior. Mary had said “But play places just don’t DO it for me anymore. I want a Rubik’s Cube.” But Ethan had lost another tooth, which was worth a little celebration. The kids played hide and seek on the toys. Ethan kept refilling our drinks for us, and created what he called “The Lemonade of Funk” — a combination of rootbeer, fanta, and light lemonade. Gotta love fountain drinks. And not to worry, they’ve solved the rubix cube problem too: they’re going in on one tomorrow.

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