Annika is not sleeping. Or rather she's not sleeping enough to guarantee anything like the tenuous grasp on civility that characterizes your typical 8-year-old.
You can always recognize parents of elementary school kids because they look so pitifully grateful, as if they're hearing Louis Armstrong singing "What a Wonderful World" all the time inside their heads. But not in a crazy way. Or rather not in an entirely crazy way.
And why do those parents look so gosh darn grateful? It's because their kids are finally wiping themselves (if not always completely successfully and don't ask more about that la-la-la)! And their kids are capable of having conversations that are both amusing and enlightening and often even concern a topic based loosely in reality! And they are so very well-mannered (no food has been inserted in a nose for at least a few months)! And their kids are keeping regular bedtime hours!
The school-age years are like spring after the long, weird, sleepless winter of baby-toddlerdom.
But, currently, Annika is not sleeping very much at all. We've checked drug levels, and had long talks about whether anything is making her nervous, and I've tried to identify if she's having any recurring thoughts at bedtime that keep her from relaxing into what her growing body needs.
Of course, I'm not exactly the Sleep Health Role Model myself, but I figure I can get by with not enough sleep because I've already successfully mastered my multiples of 3 and can identify most of the 50 states on the map (eastern seaboard states with their random cookie-crumb-shape approach to border-drawing excepted).
Tonight as Annika and I talked out (again) her sleep issues 2 hours after I had kissed her goodnight (ever hopeful), she suddenly brightened. "Hey!" she exclaimed, a smile spreading across her face to congratulate her own cleverness. "I know what would help! It always helps me fall asleep! Every time!"
"What is it?" I asked, equally excited, figuring that her faith in this method might be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
"It's that white stuff they put in my I.V. before surgery!"
"I'm plumb out of propofol, baby."
She missed the sarcasm. Plus, I felt guilty for getting sarcastic on my poor 8-year-old who wants to go to sleep so bad that she's suggested the anesthetic she for years hated so much that she would tearfully promise the doctors that she would go to sleep on her own, really!, if they would just give her a chance and maybe sing her a lullaby instead?
So I gave her an earnest and sincere review of all the obstacles to using propofol as a sleep aid.
"OK," she agreed, looking disappointed. "Don't you have any other sleepy medicine you could give me?"
And, no, I don't. But I offered up a lovely back scratch along with some humming, and she agreed to give it a try. After all, you have to think outside of the box sometimes.