Wednesday, February 28, 2007

MoMa is Far Too Accommodating of My Eccentricities

Norah has not been sleeping well lately. She’s reached a milestone in her understanding of the world that makes her wail in the night. And while I’m happy that her little brain is developing on a daily basis, sometimes I wish this whole “object permanence” thing would be forgotten. Suddenly, she knows Mommy and Daddy still exist even when she can’t see us. So now, instead of rolling over and going back to sleep like my pre-permanence daughter would have, she instead shrieks and cries until one of her parents must make the trek down from our attic bedroom to soothe her. To those readers who have never hovered over a crib at 3:42 AM praying silently to any god that will listen to brings restful sleep to your child so you can slink back to your own warm blankets…let me say it’s difficult in those moments to remind yourself how cute your daughter really is and how lucky you are in the scheme of things to have this opportunity. Those thoughts, you see, are daylight thoughts. Night time thoughts are less eloquent and far more succinct, “Go to sleep, go to sleep, for God’s sake go to sleep.”

Now, in a moment of what I shall here describe as brilliance, I discovered that while I am unable to leave her until she is fully back to sleep…I am able to slowly increase my distance. This relives strain on my back and also allows me to eventually lie on the floor and in theory even get a bit of sleep while I wait her out with no more effort than an occasional “ssshhhhh” to soothe her if she forgets I’m down there. A perfect solution, you say. Should be…but it isn’t. Due to eccentricities alluded to in the title, I am unable to make proper use of my brilliance.

Problem # 1: The Mirror

One of the great benefits of moving Norah’s room into the larger guest room a few weeks ago was the use of the large dresser in there. With her growing collection of clothing, this thing has really come in handy. However, attached to this dresser is a six-foot by 3-foot and I don’t like mirrors. Aside from the mirror on this furniture piece, one small mirror in the china hutch in the dining room, and one mirror for each of our two bathrooms, reflective surfaces are kept to a minimum in Casa de Gren.

I’m pretty sure it stems back to an episode of the Twilight Zone or Tales from the Dark Side or some other such show I watched when I was young. This guy in his apartment keeps catching sight of a shadowy figure moving toward him in reflections. When he looks…nothing. It goes on and on until he sees the shadow approaching in the reflection from his bathtub faucet. He ignores it and the next shot is of him dead in his tub. I have no doubt that if I saw it again I would laugh at the cheesiness. But, the timing of my viewing struck such that I have ever since been wigged out by mirrors. I have to keep checking them; I have to keep an eye on them…especially when the lighting is dim.

So, I’m down in Norah’s room, lying on the floor of a room with a huge mirror. I’d love to just get a few minutes of sleep…but I have to keep checking the damned mirror.

Problem #2: Creepy Little Goblins

This is yet another reason I’m looking forward to finishing the story I’ve been working on for the past month or seven. I’m spending all together too much time thinking about little goblin creatures. I think about them while I drive, I contemplate them as I fall asleep, so I can’t get them out of my head as I lay there, eyes closed, in front of a huge mirror. And the sad fact is that it’s not really that scary of a story, I don’t think…it’s just the sheer amount of time I’ve spent thinking about particular aspects of it that has made the whole thing very real in my mind. I know it’s all in my imagination…and yet I can’t stop thinking about it…in the night…in the dark.

To further understand this issue, I need to tell you a thing or two about my over active imagination. I get what I call phantasms from time to time. I wake up and…well…see thing. And by God they’re there as real as my nightstand. I can look at them, stare at them, watch them move about the room. But when I turn on the light…they’re gone.

For example, on the second or third night that I roomed with FreddyJ in college, I saw a huge spider…maybe a foot across, darting across the ceiling. It dropped into my bed at my feet and starting scurrying toward my face. I did what any of you would do in such a situation…I screamed and flung the blankets over my attacker, thus making poor FreddyJ seriously consider asking for a roommate transfer.

Another time I awoke to find that the wall next to my bed had somehow been perforated with thousands of tiny holes and each one had a little worm-like creature wiggling its way out.

A few months ago, even before I became obsessed with goblins, I awoke and saw a little trollish man hiding behind my window blinds. He kept peaking at me to see if I was still watching him. Moonshot woke and asked me what I was doing. I responded by asking, “Can you see that little man on the window?” She assured me that she could not, so I knew immediately I was having one of my strange night time visions, but he was still there as far as I could see and didn’t leave until I turned on the light.

I bring this up only to showcase the power my imagination wields over me when the lights go off. I knew that crazy troll was not really there…but I’ll be damned if I was going to close my eyes until I’d proven it.

Anyway…back to the middle of the night Norah watch. I’m laying there with a mirror looming over me and my overactive imagination assuring me that I should be concerned about small creatures that scamper about in the shadows. I’ve thought ahead enough to bring a pillow with me…but it doesn’t matter…I’m not sleeping.

So I told MoMa about this. She knows about my mirror thing, I’ve been keeping her up to date on my story progress, and she’s always interested in Norah news. So, this seemed like a delightfully funny story to tell her. I figured we’d both have a little chuckle at how silly I am and then we’d segue right into helpful grandmotherly advice on getting a child to sleep through the night. However, I had underestimated a mother’s ability to rationalize her son’s lunacy.

“Maybe you should get rid of that dresser.”


One Wink at a Time said...

You are such a good story teller! I love how you described your feelings toward Norah falling asleep in the middle of the night as opposed to day. Who of us hasn't been there and recognize that feeling of futility?
MoMa, (I always think of the Museum of Modern Art when I see her name) that was a perfectly sensical and amusing reaction. :-)

Oaf said...

Throw a blanket over it.

I guess it's my good fortune that I missed that Twilight Zone episode. Does Nora pick up on your mirror-fascination? I think at some age, she will notice your emotional states, but if this is more of a frontal lobe thing she might not.

Anonymous said...

You could take the mirror off the dresser. They are usually attached at the back with screws.

Moksha Gren said...

Wink - Thanks for the kudos. I wasn't thinking about MoMA when I named MoMa, but I can see the confusion.

And yeah, MoMa's reaction make sense. But I'm just not willing to go discarding furniture based on a Twilight ZOne episode, ya know.

Oaf - Yeah, I suppose I could just cover it...but recall back to my previous post that I am a mind over matter type person. I already feel silly enough having to keep an eye on the resort to covering it would be to submit. Never!

And with so few mirrors in the may take her a while to pick up on the pattern. However, if I started throwing blankets over mirrors...I bet she'd notice quicker. And then I'd have a hard time calming her when she gets old enough to be afraid of monsters in the closets and under the bed. "No, Norah...there are no monsters under the bed. They're in the mirror. Good night."

Anonymous - Yes, this one is fully detachable. However, there are two reasons I don't do this. 1) See my above comment to Oaf. 2) It really does make her room seem more open and sunlit during the day. And she loves to look at herself in the mirror.

All - I didn't mean to paint a picture of me on the verge of panic in her room. I'm unnerved enough to keep an eye open, but not frightened enough to avoid the room or probably even so much that you'd even notice unless you knew to look for my eye flicking toward the mirror. It's really more of a minor quirk than a phobia.

But thanks for the suggestions :)

Alvis said...

Have you seen "A Beautiful Mind"? Heh...

Maybe you are having night terrors. I've heard of such a thing that is worse than a nightmare, but I've never really looked into it.

FreddyJ said...

It wasn't the phantasms that made me consider a different roommate. It was waking up in the middle of the night and finding you staring at me over the side of the bunk.
But I totally get the irrational fear. I still can't sleep in a room with my back to the door if I am alone. I have woken up very stiffly from sleeping in the same position when Mouse is out of town on business.

Émilie said...

(Sorry I couldn't find an email addy for you, but it's late and maybe I didn't look hard enough... *shrug*)

You are right, Norah's a day younger than Xavier! I got curious as well and clicked around here for a couple minutes. Saw Norah's page, she's so cutsey! and what a cool idea, the wallpapers. Looked at some pictures from her birth, too, and she was a really good looking newborn. She seems to sit up well by herself - Xavier's doing ok, but I still have to keep a hand around less he fall, and hence is not quite near pulling himself from his crib. For the crawling, my recommendations are to place the baby directly on the floor (no blanket) and let her/him bare arms and legs, so they have the best traction. But if she's reaching then it won't be long. Xavier started reaching on the monday, and two days later he was doing pretty good already. It's been a week now and he's relatively quick.

Gotta go to bed. I wanna start a plan for full nights now. I don't like to let him cry, but I think I'll have to have a go at it, if I dare. It's about time he learned to sleep right. ;)

Oaf said...

I'm all for technical solutions, although in this case many analysts would probably disagree. IANAP.

If you have been struggling with this particular fixation (and something about it doesn't really seem to me like a phobia) for over twenty years, you've certainly put in the effort on desensitization. Cover the mirror while you have to sleep in the room on any regular basis. Hopefully Nora will get over her attachment issues before she gains enough empathy that her internal model of Dad's personality includes his techniques for avoiding anxiety. Of course, when she discovers the Wayback Machine at about age ten this will make for fascinating reading.

It's a bit late for this, but while I myself have some fairly odd anxiety triggers I take a dim enough view of humanity that I won't be posting them online. You're braver than I am! I'm your friend, and I've already imagined you stuck in a funhouse hall-of-mirrors. (I know, with friends like these...)

If you're truly brave, you might try describing your situation to a Freudian. Try to be amused by the unpleasant explanation!

JET said...

Your writing is seriously getting much better! Not that it was ever bad..but..u know what I mean. I can not wait to read your story. He/she is going to be great.
As for your night visions..drugs man, too many drugs.
---Alvis, you mention night terrors, I think I used to get those. I used to wake up screaming like a banchi for no damn reason. Imagine the worst scream you have ever heard, movie's, real life, and multipy that by 10. I am sure Moksha can explain it better than I can.
It sucks now, I am getting ready to go to bed, and I know that I will have to fall asleep to the TV on, b/c now, I will see shit in my room and get all freaked out.
Good night to me. Hope the bed bugs don't bite...literally..
"As JET shuts down the computer, the monster in his closet slowy grins and cracks his nuckles...."

Mark said...

Sorry I didn't realize sooner that you had posted in the middle of the day. Last night, I read and enjoyed this post, and I can relate to it somewhat.

I grew up on dead-end street in the country (lucky it was even paved). The street was flat in front of our house, but went sharply downhill before ending in an empty cul-de-sac. Any time I was in the front yard alone at night, I would imagine there was a fire horse, with a fire rider, coming up from from the end of the road to snatch me. I still had that fear into my teens.

In your case, however, the threat is real.

The five or so years my brother and his wife lived in your fair city, we visited them once. It was a trip I'll never forget.

Early that day, the zoo provided a good look at the creatures one would expect to find on Earth (although the cat exhibits were closed). Later that night, at my brother's house, I got up to get Shannon a glass of water to take a pain reliever. She had developed a killer crick in her neck. My brother and his wife had laughed at her at the zoo because she had to turn her entire torso to look at anything that wasn't straight ahead.

As I entered the living room, I saw movement in a shelf of the entertainment center, where my brother and I worked earlier that evening to figure out why his Surround Sound wasn't working. I did a textbook Hollywood double-take, but saw nothing unusual. The center channel sat atop the TV and only the framed pictures and random knick-knacks stared back at me.

On my way back from the kitchen, I looked at the rear channel speakers, on stands about four feet tall. Standing next to the left rear speaker, it's back and arms flat against it as if trying to conceal itself, was an orange goblin.

I dropped the glass of water on the ceramic tile floor. Drops of water and shards of glass landed on my feet.

Unsure my eyes had sent what it was seeing, my brain told them to squint and try again. After my vision cleared, there he was, an impossibly creature I'd known only from fairy tales, his chest rapidly rising and falling as he remained otherwise perfectly still. Still suspecting the dark was playing tricks on me, I reached over and flipped the light switch.

He was still there.

Carefully stepping over the mess from the glass, I approached the speaker. The goblin closed his eyes as I leaned in for a closer look. He had a tiny wart on the end of his rumpled nose and black eyelashes that touched his cheeks.

"I'm not going to hurt you. What are you?"

He slowly opened one eye and regarded me cautiously. He shook his head and pointed to his mouth.

"Oh, you can't talk?" I asked.

He shook his head again.

I noticed on his lips what looked like shredded bits of brown nylon or rubber. It was the same color as the coating on my brother's speaker wire. Craning my neck to get a look behind the speaker, I saw two bare wires, one leading to the positive post and one stopping short of the negative post.

"So you're the reason his Surround Sound isn't working," I said.

The goblin looked defeated. He nodded.

Still a bit perturbed at my brother and his wife for making fun of Shannon's misfortune, I made a decision.

"Don't worry. I'll never tell."

The next morning, my brother said his center channel wasn't working either.

"Wow, that's weird. Must be your receiver," I said.

Hokey said...

I have the perfect solutions... go back to bed... :) I know (first hand) how hard it is to walk away from a crying child but it's better for you and they're just going to have to learn that they really can sleep through the night with you not in the room. We had 1 - 2 bad nights with Sarah but were thankful for several reasons when they passed. One, we didn't have to listen to her wails from our bed and use every once of strength to stay in bed and two, because we knew a sleeping baby was a happy baby. :) I know it's hard but try going back to bed...

Simon said...

I started to read the second paragraph of Jet's comment and thought to myself, that's just what my own brother would say. And then I finished the sentence and realised Jet was saying you used too many drugs. My brother would totally have tried to give me some.

I didn't know Émilie popped by here! One of the few bloggers I've met in person through other associations. (Just between you and me, I can't stand her. She pens each blog post in French AND English. And it's not like she has a translating service or Babelfish or anything... she's fluently bilingual. Dammit...)

Topically, though, if there's one thing I hate to relate to as well as I can, it's this. Our first boy was pretty good about sleeping through the night at an early age, but still kept us up nights. Our second took much longer. He still wakes in the wee hours sometimes. Cries it out, or we concede the match and haul him into bed with us for the last couple hours. It's always fun to be forced awake by a silly giggle followed by the meaty smack of an infant's palm on your forehead. And another giggle.

The hours I've spent hunched over a crib, dozing, mumbling incoherent, soothing platitudes in an effort to placate a wailing infant are some that I want back most fervently. I've seriously scrunched up my eyes and tried willing my boys to sleep. I was both saddened and reassured that both my sons are too strong for Jedi mind tricks to work.

Simon said...

PS: I am always willing - hell, I'll leap at the chance - to commiserate, but will mostly refuse to offer advice in nearly any sort of baby-raising scenario unless it's forced from me. (Or I'm asked really, really, nicely.) What worked for me was on our two boys in our house, with me and my wife as parents and whatever little idiosyncracies make us unique and allow us to do what we've done so far.

For that same reason I'll most often ignore unsolicited advice, no matter how good the intentions of the giver. I mean, I'll listen to whatever's being said, and not shun common sense wisdom, but I've found myself nodding my head and smiling blandly more often than latching on to whatever nuggets of alleged wisdom came my way.

This may come across as unsolicited advice to ignore unsolicited advice, which just goes to show how insidious I can be.

Trust no one!!

Simon said...

PPS: Mark's nuts.

Everybody knows goblins are green and prefer black and red coated wires.

Mouse said...

To Moksha and Oaf-
You guys aren't alone - I too have a hyperactive anxiety response to highly unusual triggers. (Like Oaf, I'll take pity on the blogosphere and not describe mine...trying to make someone who has never experience irrational anxiety understand is pretty futile anyway. "Yes, I know it's silly, but I just don't want to drive to the mall right now. No real reason, I just don't. Because I don't. BECAUSE I DON'T! GIVE ME A FRIGGING BREAK!")
Solidarity, my brothers.

Moksha Gren said...

Alvis - I'm not sure it's really night terrors. I've read abou those and they sound much scarier than what I have. It's more like I'm awake...but somehow still dreaming.

FreddyJ - I'm actually suprised you didn't flee right then. I'm not sure how I would have reacted if I'd awaken to find you staring at me.

Emilie - Thanks for swingin by. But I've been told that I should be disgusted by your billingual posting. I can barely muster up one post a week...and here you are doing double duty on each post. You go-getters make me sick ;)

Norah has been sitting unaided since she was about four months old, but has only recently shown interest in crawling. However, her elbows and knees are usually covered and she tends to play on a slick fabriced blanket. You're right, her traction may not be the greatest. We'll see what she can do with velcro elbow pads

Oaf - Come on, tell. Only the very best of humanity hang out here ;)

Jet - I really wish I could record that scream. I admit that the phrase "blood curdling" meant nothing to me until I heard it. When I first heard Jet's shriek, I was maybe 17, sleeping in a bedroom across the house from my brother. I did not think, I did not wonder what it was, I reflexively threw the covers over my head and went to the fetal position. Only after that did I venture out to see what it heart racing.

I've heard it a few times since, but it never gets any easier. It is inhuman and terrifying.

Mark - While I sympathize with your fear of the little goblin, you obviously haven't studied these things as in-depth as I have. Goblins have no interest in electronics, they focus mainly on children and livestock, horses specifically. Gremlins on the other hand are notorious technology ruiners. And with the orange coloring, I'd guess you were dealing with a German Gremlin. Which makes sense because of the largely Greman heritage of the St. Louis region. If I knew its beer preference, I'd even be able to tell you which region of German it hailed from, but you were too busy getting revenge on your brother to sit down and have a drink with the poor creature. Ah well.

Hokey - We let her scream as much as we can...but she reaches a point of no return where she will not calm back down and will often get so worked up she pukes. We wait her out as long as we can, but venture down before she goes supernova. We don't pick her up, we do the minimum required to calm her, placing a hand on her, standing over the crib, or (as mentioned) just being in the room. Last night she slept through the night...I feel wonderful!

Si - Yes , I know the feeling. I do like hearing what others have done. I know many creative folks and am often finding things I've not tried. But yeah, solutions are as varied as the children on which they are used.

Also, this was the first time Emilie came by. I noticed in her comment on your site that Xavier was almost exactly as old as Norah, so I snooped about her page for a bit and said hi. She's just being polite.

Mouse - Heck, even knowing where my little fear came from, I can't really explain it to myself. I mean, I know there's no danger. If I honestly thought there was danger, I wouldn't leave my daughter in the room alone. So why keep checking? I dunno.

Mark said...

Wow, that comment story I left was long. Probably should have just e-mailed that one to you.

Even as I finished typing it, I knew it sounded like gremlins. Oh well. You got me.

P.S. My brother always lamented living in St. Louis, because he's a Miller Lite man.

JET said...

Mark, there are people in St. Louis that like Miller, granted, I wouldn't tell him flaunt it.
If I Gremlin busted into my house, having a beer with him would be the last thing on my mind. After I change my britches, I would run. Altough, they are short, so a swift kick in the face might avert danger.
And good to know that if a Goblin/Gremlin would have gotten me as a child, my brother would not save me. I guess someone has to carry on the last name, that must be what you were thinking.

Oaf said...


Don't blame the drugs, man!

Émilie said...

Yes, I'm so Canadian it's scary. (Lol!) Actually translating's not so long, 5 minutes tops. Of *course*, I don't ramble on for pages and pages like certain people from Alberta (Albertans?). *cough* simon *cough*

What surprises me, actually, is how many posts I'm doing these days - used to be a monthly kind of blog. I'm always saying how I've gained no time with this maternity leave thing, what with the baby and all, so this posts storm means that either a) I find myself lying or b) I'm getting super-efficient time-wise. I think a mix of both.

Moksha, good luck with Norah's nights, that Supernova thing sounds kinda bad. I can't complain too much about Xavier: he wakes up often nowadays, but it doesn't last long. I'm just going for perfect nights now. The few-hours-of-sleep comment you left reminded me of a "stayed awake 10 hours straight" bit from the funny article I linked at the bottom of my last post. Have a look at it, it *is* rather funny, while we're on the subject.

Alright I'm rambling. Time's up.
Ciao, Émilie

PS. Simon (if you read this again) I tried checking your bio to make sure I had my facts straight (I'm *almost* sure you're in Alberta, I evidently suck in geography), and found out my blog's linked there (cool!), but it's at the bottom of the alphabetical list, what's up with that? (Blame the accent to mess things up.)

One Wink at a Time said...

Hey. 'Sup?

Hokey said...

Oh, that's rough. It's hard to know how to comfort a baby when they get like that. Glad to hear you got some sleep! Hopefully that trend will continue... :)