Sleep is a luxury that I cherish when I am able. Don’t you? Unfortunately, it isn’t the norm at my house, and it’s NEVER available on Sunday nights. I truly believe deep down my ASD son knows I have to be at work early and thinks it will make me feel better to chase him around the house as he giggles uncontrollably at 1:45am.
For the record, it doesn’t.
I never really know when it’s going to happen either. As most parents with children on the spectrum know, scheduling is super important, and we rarely stray from Ryder’s bedtime ritual. It’s pretty simple: Medicine (for his neurological disorder), brush our teeth, carry him to bed while singing “his” song, and we lay him down on top of his blankets where he snuggles into his giant stuffed puppy he uses as a pillow and he cups his fleece blanket to his cheek.
He smiles. Sometimes he will giggle as he gently rubs his blanky across his face. Other times he will curl into his puppy and close his eyes. But each and every night he gives me the false pretense that he’s tired, and he’ll sleep.
Lies. ALL LIES.
Part of me thinks the clever little menace does it on purpose. For real. Ryder is smart, and he knows when he’s being mischevious. Just because he is non-verbal, doesn’t mean he isn’t aware that he’s being naughty. He loves being evil.
And I love that he loves being evil.
Generally Ryder will fall asleep at his regular bedtime. There are nights when he will bang his door as loudly as he can and make as much noise as an elephant thrashing through a neighbourhood of glass houses, but for the most part I can rely on the fact he will fall asleep and I will have an hour or so to catch up on my PVR. (and drink wine. Always drink the wine!)
At least once a week, and sometimes 7, he wakes up at 3am, runs into my room at full speed, jumps onto my diaphragm and screams with delight. A ton of bricks on your bladder in the middle of the night isn’t pleasant, but waking up to a happy face erases any stress about a little bit of pee that escaped onto the bedsheets.
I am not joking.
With Autism, middle-of-the-night wake-ups aren’t the snuggly type. How I would kill for small fingers tapping me gently on the shoulder so he could climb into the curve of my belly and fall back into dreamland. What I wouldn’t give for a gentle hug before droopy eyes and a stifled yawn.
Instead, I get a wild party at 2:15am with a demand for a new sippy cup (he doesn’t ask, he shoves it in my face) at 2:17am and a 100m dash through the hallways while banging every second wall with his fist at 2:19am.
By 4am we’ve watched 13 episodes of Peg + Cat, the neighbours have knocked back 7 times, the Dog across the street has barked 29 times, and we’ve had about 54 jujubes and 4 bottles of apple juice.
And that was just last Sunday.
My initial reaction is frustration, I won’t lie. But it only takes a few wet kisses, a couple giggles, and one or two head butts while dragging me out of my warm bed, for me to realize that I wouldn’t change even a second of it.
Because 3am house parties that wake up the neighbourhood are what living with Autism is all about. And I wouldn’t miss it for the world.