Sleep-related memories that inspired change

Sandra Dodd, and others

In March, 2011, Holly Dodd (then 19) attended a six-hour workshop called Women and Creativity, on movement, emotion, memory and storytelling. She came back with a piece of writing. I have scanned the beginning and transcribed the rest.

I am sitting comfortably with a convenient, safe place to rest my face. Safe. On my father's lap. I can feel the heat from a fire. I can hear voices—I can recognize many of them. I hear singing. I feel singing. The vibrations of my dad's baritone voice through his wool clothing. His breath. Also the feeling of my face held against his medium-length beard, and half on the wool he wears. Sounds and odor of the campfire. The same as any before and many since. My mother's nearby laugh. Relating sparks from our fire to stars in the night sky. Being old enough to get jokes cracked between songs. Knowing it is not only ok, but expected of me, to fall asleep. Right here where I already am. My dad will tuck me in when he is done holding me, and it will hardly be my business.

Jen Keefe wrote:

We recently transformed our walk-in closet in the master bedroom into a gaming room for my 11 year old son. We live in a small apartment so it gives him some space during the day. At night, he can game all night with the door closed and headphones on which lets others sleep, and still feel safe and connected because we are right there. I make him "dinner" before I climb into bed and make sure he has water (we buy the big huge packs of bottled water and keep them right next to his desk).

I wish I had thought of this a few years ago because I had trouble finding a solution then. What we came up with at that time was getting really excited about binge watching TV shows in bed together. We have two queens pulled together so people can fall asleep wherever they want (my husband mostly sleeps separately as he has an early work day). So we would really look forward to the next episode which made switching between gaming (or creating for my daughter) and getting into bed a happy time. After every episode or two I would ask the kids if they were feeling ready for sleep. Then we would either decide to watch more or power down.

In looking back, I really am so grateful that I was encouraged to think differently about things. My kids actually love bedtime and sleep now. I was an anxious insomniac for my entire childhood. It's only recently I've become a sleep/bed time lover. I just recalled to my husband earlier this week that I was so tired in high school I used to sneak into the locker room and try to take a nap on those super skinny little benches. Instead of sleeping at night I laid awake, afraid. It's wonderful how parenting this way heals parts of our own past unexpectedly.
—Jen Keefe
in Radical Unschooling Info
on facebook

A mom shared this memory:
When I was 15, I woke up in the middle of the night with an excruciating pain in my tummy. It was *agony*... and I lay in bed, in excruciating pain, crying softly so I wouldn't be heard, for close to two hours, waiting for my mom to wake up so I could tell her. I finally got brave and went *into her room* which we had been trained NEVER to do, and woke her up, which we had been trained NEVER to do, to tell her my stomach felt like there were knives going into it.

Her boyfriend cussed at me for waking him (until he saw I was in pain), and she rolled her eyes at me. She actually said, "This better be good."

I had an ovarian cyst.

That reminded me of a night when I was about that age:
Once when I was fourteen or fifteen I had a REALLY terrible nightmare. My room was dark. Windowless. It was a half-basement canning room with one un-plastered adobe wall with selves on it, a concrete floor, and the stairs up to the kitchen were really just two big stairs. But it was so dark at night that I couldn't see any more with my eyes open than with them closed. And usually I really liked it. But this night, no.

My parents slept in what would have been the dining room, if we hadn't had six people in a two-bedroom house. I woke my mom up and said I had had a bad dream. She said okay, sorry, go back to bed. I asked if I could sleep on the couch, which was across in the living room, same big room, in a way, and I could have seen them.

If she had said yes, that would have been the first time I had slept near my parents that I could remember, ever. Even when we camped, the kids were separate from the adults.

She said no, go back to bed.


Dola responded in quite a different vein, and that's also now on the co-sleeping page, here:
Reading the mails on this thread about the memories of not being comforted at night, fills my heart with sadness. I like to simply add here that, if some of you on this list are making a change in not allowing this to happen to your kids, it is great.

In India the children are used to sleeping in the same bed or room with parents or grand moms. I specially love the warmth of my children's bodies next to mine and their smell. The most enjoyable is the time we spent giggling, sharing our feelings, and planning what we are going to do next morning. And all this is done at sleep time in bed.

As for me, I still have fond memories of snuggling up to my grand mom (my mother's mom). She was this huge and fat lady, with lots of soft flesh and it felt like sleeping on the softest bed in the world. Since she spent most her time in the kitchen, she smelt of rich Indian spices. Her clothes where soft and white cotton (all widows wore this fabric during her time). I smile every time I remember that.

And I hope my children also grow up with similar fond memories of bed time and night time.

(Dola Dasgupta-Banerji)

In response to Even when we camped, the kids were separate from the adults, "Almadoing" wrote:
This reminds me of how we got back to co-sleeping when we discovered unschooling (when my sons were about 5 and 3). We were living in a house that was on the market, at the dramatic start of the housing slump, and so I didn't dare implement co-sleeping straightaway (needing to present a master and second bedroom to potential buyers). But near to moving time I asked the kids if, when we got to the new house, they wanted us to all sleep in together "as if we were camping". They LOVED the idea and we still sleep that way 2 1/2 years on.

DS(8) and DS (5)

Other sleep-related pages

Sleeping and Unschooling


Parenting Peacefully