There is very little to laugh about in the Katie household at the moment, well very little involving Katie that is. The fact that I've just written that makes me feel incredibly sad. At the moment it just feels like a daily grind, plugging away at her increasingly aggressive behaviour; dodging the blows; side stepping the spits; leaping away from the kicking legs; ignoring the rudeness; having no evening to recover or to talk to TCM because Katie refuses to go to sleep; trying to feel the love within all the negativity and battling the ever increasing frustration and anger I am feeling as nothing seems to make a difference.
As I type this I am sitting on a stakeout outside her bedroom again in an attempt to keep her in her bed and encourage sleep.
I ask myself "where has my delightfully happy girl gone?" Did she get lost when we were playing hide and seek? Where has my sense of humour gone? Are they keeping each other company; laughing away at our expense, tucked away in the tent or in the playhouse?
Just as I finally get my Vitamin D levels back on an even keel I'm exhausted again, except now it's mental exhaustion. I'm furiously repeating to myself over and over "It's a phase....it's a phase". But Katie hasn't slept properly since March and it's been 18 months since the aggression started. She's awake until about 10pm every night yet she is put to bed at 7pm. She's up and down and generally looking for trouble. We have to lock our bedroom door and the bathroom door to stop her going in there and wreaking havoc on the hair gel or stealing things. She will do everything in her power to stay awake because she, quite simply, doesn't want to go to bed.
So here I sit.
I sit with a sore bum and an aching back (because my back really ain't what it used to be), putting her back to bed repeatedly, reminding her it's bedtime. She's resisting with every part of her psyche. It's a battle of who is the most stubborn.
If I repeat it to myself enough times and express it differently it will (in the words of Jean Luc Picard) "make it so".
She's yet to realise that I am. She seems to be a very slow learner on this subject which is interesting because is bright; she's generally a quick study.
The Force is strong in this one.
I've been giving her Bach Flower Remedy Nighttime drops and spray to help her settle. I love Bach Flower Remedies but it seems even they aren't able to conquer a strong will.
She's keeping Pip awake and the cats just want to loiter with me which isn't helping.
I'm going on a training day in Non Violence Response in a few weeks time and I've been reading up on it and talking to a friend who has used the technique successfully. I'm hoping it will help. I'm hoping it will help de-esculate things. I'm hoping my levels of intense anger and frustration will lessen. Something has to work surely?
She's just got out of bed about 6 times. I've put her back.
I've knocked my orange juice over. I might email TCM to bring me up some wine or maybe I should have tea and doughnuts...isn't that what you're supposed to have on a stakeout?
She's forgotten that she is able to go to sleep.
TCM is telepathic and has brought me wine. No need to email.
Creak, creak, creak goes her bed as she wiggles about.
Squish, squish, squish as she fiddles with some paper.
Thump, thump, thump as she gets out of bed again.
An announcement....she's claims she's going to sleep.
She's counting sheep....... VERY LOUDLY!
She yawns at 11 sheep!
I don't think that's going to work if I'm honest....
"Get into bed please"
"Get into bed please" I say as she appears yet again to see what I'm doing.
I'm trying hard not to speak to her but she's a master at engagement.
Believe it or not, sitting here makes things calmer than if I was downstairs. If I was downstairs she would follow every 5 seconds. Then it would get angry. I don't care what SuperNanny says, it's not possible to out someone back to bed 50 times every night over and over again and not get angry eventually. Katie wants me to get angry. This I know.
Sometimes I do get angry. Sometimes it all gets too much. I just want to go and eat some dinner but, instead, I'm sitting on the landing, feeling incredibly uncomfortable, anticipating her next move.
It's all gone very, very, quiet. Dare I hope that she's actually going to sleep? If she is then it will be the earliest she's gone to sleep in months. She needs to sleep. Badly. Sleep is the key to everything I suspect. She fell asleep watching Numtums in school last week. She thought it was funny. Oddly I didn't find it amusing.
Sssshhhhhhh, I've shooooed TCM away from the stairs with an urgent, yet silent, wave of my hand.
I'm holding my breath......
I can hear a few minimal movements. She's definitely settling. A few creaks as she settles....
For the love of Pete!!!!
She's humming....now the thumping and wriggling and chatting has started again.
"Snuggly, wuggly, buggly, cuddly" mutters Katie, just to remind herself she's awake and wants to stay awake.
That's what hope does to you. It gives you....well.....hope. I almost started to dream of creeping down the stairs and eating my dinner.
Here I sit. On the landing. With my numb bum and pins and needles forming in my legs.
At least Pip is asleep.
Now she's trying to engage with me again.
You're yawning. Give it up and sleep kiddo!
I've just reminded her that I will be emailing her Head Teacher to let her know about bedtime. I've been to see her Head Teacher and appraised her of the situation at home, thankfully she is incredibly supportive. No secrets happening here which Katie hates but is necessary to help her. She needs to see us all working together to help her.
More yawning and a little sigh.
I'm reminded of a wonderful book my lovely friend bought me for Christmas. It's called "Go the F*** to Sleep!" It's brilliant. I wish I could read it to Katie but I'm sure you can guess why I can't. I highly recommend it as a read though. Maybe I could set the text to music and sing it to myself for a laugh? If you've not read it. Here's Samuel L Jackson reading it.....apologies for the language of course..
It's quiet in there again. More breath holding. Goodness I want to get up and stretch but I daren't move.
A few bed creaks and then quiet.
I'm doing it again. I'm feeling that feeling of hope again.
Creak, creak, creak goes the bed.
Chat, chat, chat to herself.
Thank heavens for my lovely friend who is messaging me on Facebook and keeping me company. We did this last Wednesday when I wanted to be watching the Great British Bake-off as well. It keeps me calm and sane(er)
Oh sorry I didn't tell you, this isn't the first time me and my numb bum have sat here. No Siree! We've been here before and will be again, and again, night after night, until a certain someone learns how to go to sleep again. That's love and commitment. I hope one day she'll understand that.
She's chatting to herself again. On the plus side I'm not being thumped or kicked I suppose. My numb bum is a small price to pay for no aggression.
I spoke too soon.
She claimed she needed the loo and a tantrum ensued. I refused to let her get up and repeatedly put her back to bed. I would have won. She didn't need to loo although I'm sure she would have squeezed one out to make a point but.....
TCM wasn't happy and decided to undermine me totally by letting her go. I've walked away furious as the situation is now out of control. All hell is now breaking loose upstairs.
I feel a big I told you so coming from me here as she is now throwing all her ploys at him. Screaming and shouting and generally carrying on. This is a massive lesson in not being on the same page.
I'm back upstairs to finish what I've started. I'm not a happy bunny though. Thankfully the tantrum did not wake Pip up.
A bit of dialogue. Telling me to shut up.
Yeah yeah. Heard it all before kiddo.......
It's 2 hours and 10 minutes since this started. I've still had no dinner. She's calmer and yawning and settling AGAIN!
An hour ago I was hoping to create a new sleep record now I just hope she'll go to sleep before I either die of hunger or lose the will to live. Yes maybe I'm exaggerating. I could cope with losing a few pounds.
Whilst I'm sitting here I will just say that this blog post is to highlight what it's like with a child who refuses to sleep. I'm currently using what's known as the disappearing chair technique, except the chair hasn't yet disappeared because we haven't got passed the first hurdle. We will. It clearly will just take time. If this doesn't work then I don't know what else to do. Do we resort to drugs? I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet so we'll sit here night after night and see if we can bring about some change.
She sleeps! I celebrate!
I will eat.....then I can sleep!
Except I didn't sleep because just after 10pm we received a call to say Pops (TCM's dad) had been rushed into hospital with heart failure. We knew it was serious when the paramedic phoned and told me his heart had stopped and he wasn't breathing for himself and suggested someone went to the hospital. TCM whizzed up there but sadly arrived too late and our lovely Pops had passed away.
TCM is home from the hospital and trying to wrap his head around what has happened and what it all means. With Nana at home with Alzheimer's we have much to sort out. I suspect that will over-shadow the grieving for a while. We will need to work out when and how to tell Katie. With everything else going on this will be the icing on the cherry in the cake. With a knot of sadness and with anxiety in my stomach I finally turn the light out and try to find some sleep.