Material Things, Memorial Day

My wife and I are starting to buy into the hype that our house may not, for the moment be large enough. We aren’t going to move, of course. We have sunk way too much time, money, and personal connection to the place to uproot ourselves and go elsewhere. But the shortcomings of having three kids in a three-bedroom house are starting to rear themselves as the three children take on vastly different sleep schedules and sleep patterns while also shedding the sound sleeping nature that was once inherent in all our kids.

As a result, my wife and I find ourselves putting out fires all night long as kids wake up hungry, thirsty, hot, or “bored.” The current design, having moved Kirsten out of our room, is to have Kirsten in a Pack and Play in Emily’s room. This has worked better than having her in Mira’s room because the two keep each other up.  Same if Emily is in Mira’s room.  The problem is that Kirsten usually wakes up hungry at some point. Because we try to move crying and awake kids away from the sleeping ones, our overnight routine has started to resemble a kind of shell game, where the current awake child ends up in a room alone or with us, and the other children are shuffled away to areas of quiet. On Friday, Kirsten ended up in Emily’s room, Emily was in our room, Mira stayed in her room, and I was in the basement. Last night, Mira and Kirsten were in our room, Emily stayed in her room. On another night, Mira and Emily might end up in Mira’s room, and Kirsten in our room and Emily’s unused.

Actually, it’s a lot like that brain teaser about the man with one boat who has to transfer a basket of cabbages, a goat, and a wolf across the river in a boat that can only hold two of the items at a time at most. A logic puzzle, filled with sleeping bags and illogical children:

1.) Emily and Mira cannot start in the same bedroom, because Mira will keep Emily up late.
2.) Mira and Kirsten cannot start in the same bedroom, because Mira will keep Kirsten up late.
3.) Kirsten can be brought into the main bedroom at any time, but once in, can never leave.
4.) Emily or Mira can be brought into the main bedroom to sleep on the floor, but only if the other one is not aware of it.
5.) Dad can sleep on a couch downstairs to free up room in the bed or to reduce the risk of duct taping children in a closet, but if Dad ever comes upstairs again, no matter how quietly, all currently sleeping children will wake up.
6.) Emily and Kirsten can sleep on the bed in the main bedroom, but only if Dad is sleeping on the couch downstairs.
7.) Mira can never be in Emily’s bedroom by herself.

Ultimately, the puzzle only has two real solutions: Mom, Emily, and Kirsten end up in the bed in the main bedroom and Mira sleeps on the floor in the main bedroom while Dad sleeps on the couch downstairs


Dad starts on the couch to begin with, and everyone else miraculously sleeps soundly in the bed where they started the night for the entire night.

The puzzle is capped off with a goal of trying to maximize sleep for everyone by the time limit expires, which comes in the form of a loudly barking dog who knows he can use his bark for leverage against sleeping children, and is used to getting to get let out for potty or breakfast whenever he damn well wants. This dog is Cody, by the way. Cody is a Shetland Sheepdog. A Shetland Sheepdog is a lot like a smaller version of a normal sheepdog except that it was painstakingly bred in the Shetland islands of Scotland to have a piercing bark that would carry across the North Atlantic and piss off Denmark.

When I dream about a new house, I often dream about moving into one that had been owned by a professional recording artist or musician, or someone who recorded voice-overs for radio and television, and has a sound-proof room.  BECAUSE THAT IS WHERE THE KENNELS WOULD GO.

But this is why days like Memorial Day are good for me, because even though I am sleep-deprived and frustrated, I get to remember that because of men and women braver than me, more noble than me, and who got a lot less sleep around a lot more noise than me, I get to live in a house at all, safely, with my kids, free to write about and say the things I want to say, and raise kids whose biggest fear isn’t whether they are going to be bombed or taken away by soldiers but whether they get two bedtime stories or three. And in that security, I will gladly go get another glass of water at three A.M.


Author of over sixty children's books, as well writer of textbook materials and standardized exam text. I may have helped teach your children...

Posted in The Kids

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