Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tears, Tantrums and Christmas Carols

No blog post for a few days? I'll give you three guesses why.

Sleep. Or rather the lack of it.

For most of this week until last night, Lucy has been waking us for long periods of the night. It's hard to tell with Lucy whether this is because she is ill or because she wants to get up. In recent months she has developed a stock response to all problems: high-pitched, full-volume screaming. It's the same response whether you refuse her demands to be picked up or if she has fallen and genuinely hurt herself.

I've never seen such a temper on a 16 month old. She throws herself on the floor. She then lies there screaming and kicking. When this abates she pushes her self grumpily along the floor until her haad hits a piece of furniture (usually soft, fortunately). Common advice is often to ignore a child throwing a tantrum as long as it's safe. Perhaps then I should convert the playroom into a padded cell. She even sometimes head-butts the floor in anger! It is really quite a frightening and distressing thing to see. (Obviously we intervene if it gets to this stage!)

When approached in recent nights she has thrown a tantrum when we try to put her to bed then thrown another when we try to pick her up to console her. We tried every medication and teething gel but still she cried.

Once we got her in our room with the telly on though there was a marked improvement. Hmmmm. I'm still not sure whether she just wanted to get up or was feeling unwell, but in any case she ended up in our bed with Hayley.

The two nights ago Lucy slept well but Oliver had the worst night's sleep since he was a baby. For the first time in living memory we put him in bed with us. He fell asleep there and I transferred him back to his own bed. He woke every hour from then on, sometimes several times an hour.

The next morning was his Christmas Carol concert. He has been singing carols and doing the actions for us at home that he must have learned at nursery. We have been really excited and looking forward to this concert. All the parents sat down and after a few technical hitches the children entered.

When Oliver came into the room he looked so pale, drawn and tired. Then he saw us and burst into tears. I just wanted to go and grab him and take him home, but he sat on the knee of one of the assistants and he perked up enough to sing the first two carols and do the actions (starting with Here we go up to Bethlehem). But about 20 minutes in, after several yawns and increasing wriggling, he was taken out as he seemed less and less happy.

It turned out he had had a nap already and perked up when we took him out to the car. It was a real shame that he wasn't himself as he loves singing and often will direct Hayley and I in song and dance at bedtime.

Back to his sleeplessnes. He has been complaining in the night of a pain, apparently in his chest, but it's not really clear. The doctor advised that children that young sometimes know they feel unwell and the pinpointing of the pain is beyond them. Anyway he has been on Calpol, Nurofen and as of yesterday Milk of Magnesia.

Last night when he went to bed he complained again that "it hurts" and "I'm poorly". But having given him all we could in medication I sat with him in his room until he went to sleep. In fact, exhausted from lack of sleep and a long day myself, I lay on the floor of his room with my eyes closed and told him we should both close our eyes and go to sleep. To my relief, this worked.

To be honest he seemed overtired (unsurprisingly) more than poorly. He woke a couple of times in the night but at least it was an improvement on the night before. He asks to come into our bed when he says he's poorly and I'm still not 100% sure that he isn't just trying to achieve that objective. Certianly this morning he claimed to feel poorly when asking to get up, but the moment he was up he was happy, full of beans and with all complaints and ailments vanished.

When Oliver was a baby I always looked forward to the day when he could tell me why he was crying, tell me if he felt ill. I feel that way about Lucy now. But these last few nights with Oliver have made me realise it is never going to be quite as straight forward as I imagined.