January 30, 2015 posted by littlewhitecottage

It’s all about the numbers…


I’ve written before about the numbers that work together in our family and those that don’t. No 1 son works well with any of the others but no’s 2 and 3 sons don’t work well together whereas everyone loves no 4.

After the arrival of number 4 she spent some time in the playroom (that should be a dinning room and is now the workroom) it was decided that she would have the little tiny ‘single’ room (I use single in inverted commas as you can just about fit a single bed in there and shut the door) that no 3 was in. No 3 seemed fine about this as although it meant kicking him out of his own room and him not being able to sleep in his ‘party’ bed‘ anymore he would share with no 2 which all seemed a bit of an adventure. We bought bunk beds, arranged the new room and they all seemed happy.

Happy until I started teaching in the workroom which is directly underneath no 2 and 3’s bedroom and my ladies and I could hear bumps, clunks, chatter and noise which definitely wasn’t the sound of 2 small children sleeping like babies after I’d put them to bed. Hubbie would go up and growl at them but it all seemed to stem from one small boy in particular…

No 2 needs more sleep than all the others due to his issues. He can’t function without sleep and it isn’t just a simple answer to out him to bed earlier as he goes to bed at 7 which, for a 7 year old is perfectly fine.

No 3 is a fab sleeper but only when he goes to sleep first. If he’s put to bed he’s in the land of nod quicker than you can shake a stick at and this has always been the case until he started sharing with no 2.

No 3 will now stay awake until no 2 comes to bed and then talk, prod, sing and play no 2 awake.

No 2 gets very distressed about this as he wants to go to sleep and knows he needs to go to sleep.

Hubbie just growls.

I teach with the ladies in the workroom and alternated between cross and amused.

No 2 looks awful in the mornings and finds it increasingly difficult to get up.

We decided, after one awful evening this week, that we would change the numbers around. We thought no 4 could come in with us and no 3 have his room, and party bed, back, but then I wouldn’t sleep and when you have 4 children and work evenings sleep is very important. Just like no 3 I can’t function without it. So no 4 coming in with us was out.

No 1 has his own room and although would share with no 4 (he adores her) he’s going to be 11 soon and it’s not a long term solution. Could no 3 go in with him? No, not really as we found out when we went away in the summer that no 3 is a pickle and likes to keep anyone he’s sharing with awake. We threatened, got cross, joked, cajoled and finally Hubbie lost the plot but it still didn’t stop no 3 from being a pickle. No, no 1 would not want to share with no 3.

The only solution, it seemed, was that no 2 should go in with no 1 and let no 3 be on his own.

This is what we did last night.

Hubbie set up the truckle bed in no 1’s room all the while no 3 was circling and asking what was going on. He was trying to act nonchalant as if not caring but he was curious and when we explained that no 2 was going to share with no 1 for a few days he seemed sad…

No 2’s precious cuddly elephant was moved (rather ceremoniously I thought) from one room to the other and placed on the temporary truckle bed. No 2 seemed very happy to be sharing with no 1 and, after a little pep talk, even no 1 wasn’t that annoyed about it.

No 3 was put to bed after his bath and as Hubbie and I came back downstairs we looked at each other and both pulled a ‘well it might work..?’ kind of face to each other. No 2 stayed up a little longer and went to bed in the new room. 3 children in bed and just 1 to go.

No 1 son went up to bed and Hubbie and I were feeling a little smug.

4 children in bed by 8 pm and the kettle was on the hob ready to whistle signalling a cup of tea was on its way.

Then no 1 came back downstairs

‘No 2 is awake and talking to me…’

Hubbie and I sighed and raised our eyes to the ceiling.

Hubbie goes up to have a word.

No 2 is so excited to be sharing with no 1 that HE’S stayed awake to talk to him.

An we’re back to square one as no 2 still isn’t asleep and he will be exhausted in the morning.

There was silence after a brief chat from Hubbie to no 2 and we both settled down to watch Wolf Hall and then Death in Paradise (know for some strange reason as ‘plinky plinky’ in our house)

Nothing more from the children.

When morning came and the familiar squeak from no 4 that it was time she should be boobie juicing (the boys words, not mine) I came out of our bedroom and looked in and saw that both no 1 and 2 were sound sleep and no 3 was in his room too.

Maybe the plan had worked?

After the boobie juicing was complete no’s 1,2,3 and 4 were now in our room. We have the news on so were all listening. As each boy filtered away to put on their uniform no 3 stayed behind looking sad. I asked him what the matter was and he said he missed no 2 last night. I said did he like being on his own in the room and he said no, that he was lonely without no 2.

I said that I hoped he’d now seen what he liked and that he’s now missed it so he’ll be a better room sharer tonight when no 2 comes back in (no 1 has a sleepover friend coming so no 2 has to go back to his room). He looked much happier at this.

It’s tough when you’ve children with different needs having to share rooms. No 2 needs sleep (he’s being seen by lots of professionals so there’s no great worry but sleep isn’t a luxury for him) no 3 needs sleep but can manage if he doesn’t have much. No 1 used to need sleep but now doesn’t need so much and everyone is worried about no 4 not sleeping though she’s slept through since 5 weeks which has been a Godsend as throwing sleep issued from her in the mix would have us all going a bit doolally I think.

Sometimes you contrive learning like sitting down to do homework, talking about something that’s happened on the news and building that amazing castle out of paper, sellotape and just your imagination. This is intellectual learning that tends to have outcomes you can see and touch. A concept or skill is practised and remembered, an opinion is formed or changed and the picture that was in a mind is now a structure on the kitchen table. But there is other sorts of learning that we may not even see happening. A child lying in the dark in his empty room wishing his brother was above him laughing at his jokes. This child was still learning but just not in the traditional, academic sort of way.

No 3 learned that he really missed his brother when he wasn’t with him. He (hopefully) has learned that irritating people to get attention may not be the best way to let people know you are there. No 2 experience the feelings of sadness and loneliness which isn’t something I’d ever wish on him but maybe feeling what it was like to miss his brother may be much better that Hubbie growling or me threatening toys being taken away.

This learning isn’t tangible as the model on the table is but I think, for no 2, it’s been incredibly important and something I don’t think he’ll forget…

1 Comment

  • I’m one of 4 and my parents strategy was to put us to bed in age order (youngest first) with the understanding that when the youngest was asleep the next one would follow etc. Like a domino rally! It worked because even if you weren’t asleep you ‘pretended’ so the others didn’t stay up much later than you IYSWIM. Might be worth a try at a weekend.

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