The jinx - FamilyEducation

The jinx

February 12,2010
Shhhh...we're moving through a good patch now, with L. Things are not perfect, but some school-related things and sleep-related things that were very, very difficult have improved, lifted a little, letting the sun shine through. Maybe it's not a cloudless day every day, but we'll settle for partly cloudy; for that gap in the clouds that surprises us now and again, with a patch of clear blue sky. Of course, now that I've said that, I have surely jinxed it all. ********** When L. and T. were babies, and we were struggling through so many sleepless nights and nap problems and colic we lived in fear of The Jinx. If we made it through one good nap, without L. waking up after 35 minutes (after spending over an hour rocking him to sleep in the first place) we'd look at each other, but didn't dare say the words. The year after T.'s surgery, when she went through an exhausting phase of night waking that would keep her (and us) up for hours at a stretch, we would tip-toe through the day following a good night. Every now and then one of us would slip up and ruin things: she slept all through the night! I might say, giddy from the gift of sleep, and then, as soon as the words were out I'd clap my hand over my mouth and gasp, horror-movie style, knowing for sure I'd just jinxed things. We were going to be up that night--this we knew with 100% certainty. It makes me smile to think about the little sayings and worries and jokes we had when the kids were babies. When L. was an infant we lived in an apartment in upstate New York. Baby L. shared a room with our futon and computer, and the room was right next door to our only bathroom. The apartment's old floors were hardwood throughout, and they creaked horribly at night. L. was an unbelievably light sleeper when he was a baby, and even the sharp crack of the floor in the hallway by his room, or the flush of the next-door toilet, was enough to wake him. Sometimes one of us would forget about the creaky spot just outside his room, or the no-flushing rule, and sure enough, minutes after the sound, and just when we thought we'd lucked out, a high pitched "eh, eh, eh" would come from L.'s room and there he'd be, awake and fussy. We devised a system, born from the type of creative problem-solving only new parents who are chronically sleep-deprived are good at. The floor wouldn't creak, we discovered, if you hugged the walls on the walk back from the bathroom, past L.'s room, and into the living room. From then on, each time one of us would get up from the couch to go into the kitchen, or use the bathroom, we'd whisper to each other: "stick to the walls, don't flush." *********** Last night L. crashed out at 9:20, for the first time in days. In fact, we've been so used to L. still being up at 11:00 when I head to bed, or even midnight, when Scott turns in for the night, or 1:00 or 2:00 am, as happened last weekend, that I thought, for certain, I'd find him awake at 10:00 when I went upstairs to find a book. I peeked in his room. The overhead light was on, and near his head was a precariously stacked pile of heavy books. He was asleep--I couldn't believe it. I removed the books, turned off the lights, pulled the blankets back over him, blew him a kiss, and went back downstairs, scarcely daring to breathe. "Did you tell L. to go to sleep?" Scott asked, out of habit--because even though telling L. to go to sleep doesn't mean he'll do it, if we don't remind him to sleep, then perhaps he won't at all--because of The Jinx, of course. "He's already asleep!" I said. Then I hesitated, some warning feeling from long ago rising up inside of me. I saw again the dark hallway of our first apartment, and me nine years ago, pressed up against the wall, feet crammed near the baseboard, where the old floor was still solidly silent. "Huh," Scott said. We looked at each other: don't say it! "Yep!" I answered. And that was all we said about the matter. Fear of The Jinx is still alive and well at our house, even after all these years. Happy Weekend!