Doris’s House and the Sleep Update

I put my daughter into her car seat this morning as we were getting ready for our big Friday morning running around like maniacs at the Little Gym, when she grabbed my arm and asked me in her cute, little, squeaky voice, “Doris’s House?”

Doris is a lovely lady with beautiful, creamy skin, brightly colored headscarves, and a soothing Haitian accent.

She works at the Dunkin Donuts on our block at which Ellie and I frequent every other morning for coffee and “munkins”.  Or, as Ellie calls it, “Doris’s House”.

This made me stop and think about how we’re called to live a life of welcoming hospitality, and why Jesus held little kids in much higher esteem than, often, he did adults.  Doris’s smile brightens my day.  She gently touches my arm and playfully grabs for Ellie’s nose.  She calls her, “My Princess.” “How’s my Princess today? Want a munchkin or a big girl donut?”  Whatever Ellie chooses, she gives it freely without charge.  She does this with every customer.  Makes them feel special.  Important.  She remembers the way they take their coffee. She asks them about their ailing wives, their children’s school plays.  And customers, in turn, ask her about her family.  Did her son hear about college yet?  We all know Doris works at Dunkin Donuts to send her first son to school.  Standing in line, with blaring neon orange and pink lettering, is as comforting as sitting in her living room over a cup of tea.  This, this is Doris’s house.  How different the world would be if we made where we were our, “house” and thusly, welcomed people into it? If our classrooms, our offices, our buildings, our schools were all treating with respect and ownership- something extended to us because of God’s great love for us, and we in turn, extended the same gift ? I love Doris’s House.  I hope people will say the same about mine, where ever I am.

As for the sleep update, Rich and I have radically changed our schedules based upon lots of reading, advice, support, guidance and well, desperation.  We have moved bath time from nighttime to morning, as it was having the opposite effect on Ellie- so why not use it our advantage, and let her get energized for the day while getting clean at the same time? We have eliminated all forms of media- no computer, no television screens, etc.  Though she was not getting exposed to a lot of it, even the small amount she was receiving over-stimulated her, making it very difficult for her to “shut off” when it was time to go to sleep.  We have added an hour of “readiness” time before each sleep time- nap time and bedtime, in which we allow her to take her time getting ready, and give her enough heads up to wind down from the day. She now has a chance to say “goodnight” to her dolls, dawdle over brushing her teeth, teasing Papa with snuggles, and reading lots of books before bedtime at 8.

We’ve added two, specific 30 minute times for rigorous, physical activity, once in the morning, once in the afternoon before 5, but no more- more than that has an energizing rather than tiring effect.  We have been strict in making sure we are home from errands/outings/visits 45 minutes to an hour before bedtime to ensure proper wind down time.  And, we’ve begun communicating with our little one in a way we thought was perhaps too mature for her to understand and instead of wondering silently why she isn’t sleeping, we ask her now.  And she tells us.  She needs some warm milk to settle.  She’s hot.  She wants to snuggle her dolly.  She’s scared.  It’s too light in her room. She, for the most part, has told us.  I think once she felt heard, it was easier to go to sleep- and she has been sleeping.   Two and a half hour naps consistently from 11:30-2 every day this week.  5 hours at night in her own bed before her first wake-up. We’ve also noticed that she seems to be having nightmares anywhere from midnight to 1 am as she screams and yells in her sleep, and have pinpointed why she is not going back to sleep for hours afterward. She has even begun to notify us when she is sleepy, ready to begin her night time wind-down.  It has given Rich and I back our early evenings together.  It has stopped the battles, the tantrums, the confusion and the tears.  But most of all, it has given us hope that there’s nothing wrong with our child because she wouldn’t, “cry it out” like the rest of the kids and has explained why every time we tried, something never felt quite right to us.  We have a long way to go.  Five hours of sleep at night is not enough.  But it is more than ever before and we are thankful.  Thankful for people who believed us, encouraged us and prayed with us.  Thankful for professionals who recognize that every child is different.

And now, I’m going to lay down, for real this time.

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