"All I want is to get some good sleep and wake up ready for the day."
In my crazy little family of four there is myself, my husband, and our two boys, ages 10 and 8. We run around with pretty crazy schedules sometimes, equaling long days and exhausted evenings. While I'm sure we all have felt like the statement above, I want you to guess which one of the four of us uttered those words yesterday.
It was the eight year old.
Over the last couple of months, he has started complaining more and and more that his back hurts. "Can you rub my back, Mommy?" has become an almost daily request, and I knew something was up. Waking up with back pain every day is something a child should not have to deal with, especially at eight. I soon began to suspect his mattress was the problem and finally got confirmation of that the other day. My husband and I recently got a Sleep Number bed, and now one side is much firmer than the other. My son was laying on it, rolling from one side to the other, and noticed that the firmer side didn't hurt his back. "I like this one. The other one feels like my bed." When I inquired more, he added, "My mattress sinks down in the middle, and it makes my back hurt."
Now we're getting somewhere. He needed a firmer mattress to deal with back pain, and yes, he's still just eight years old. He shouldn't have to be dealing with this as young as he is, but here we are.
There is nothing fun about mattress shopping, however, and I will admit I was not looking forward to trying to get my son to actually go out looking at them. Sure, the novelty is fun for the first few ("You mean I can really climb up here with my shoes on?!"), but I was mentally prepared to have to drag him to store after store to really shop around for what worked for him. I'm sure my fellow moms out there can already hear the "Can we go home now?" whining loud and clear.
I could not have been more wrong.
Yesterday after church, my husband was headed over to his parents with my older son to help his father with something, and we discussed that I could stay home with our younger son so he could rest, because once again he didn't sleep well the night before. When I mentioned that "we could stay home, we could potentially go mattress shopping, we could all go with Daddy", etc , my son asked to go mattress shopping.
I told him we could possibly go out in a little while after we all ate lunch Again, I'm anticipating that this was going to be exhausting and wanted to stall for at least a little while. Soon my husband and our ten year old had downed their lunch first and were playing together on the PS4 while the rest of us finished. As I'm cleaning up the kitchen after lunch my son walked up and said, "Can we PLEASE go look at mattresses soon?" He gave me the puppy dog eyes and was almost begging. I never would have expected that. "Sure, bud. Let's go."
As we were shopping, I'll admit I was amused. With each mattress he climbed up and rested for a minute, closed his eyes and took a deep breath, before rolling onto his side and doing the same thing. Occasionally the store employee and I would exchange smirking looks at how seriously he took assessing each one.
I was underestimating how important this was to my son, and that was my mistake.
Three different stores later, I wasn't dragging him kicking and screaming. Instead, he was intelligently engaged in searching for a better mattress for his bed, making comments like, "Well, the second bed we looked at in that store I thought would be good for me, but can we keep going? It was definitely firmer, but I really don't think its right where I want it to be to really feel good on my back."
ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? He is eight years old! I had to suppress a grin, but was also immensely impressed. I was beginning to understand how important this was to him, and finding the best mattress for him became important to me as well.
We finally found one he really liked, and I couldn't help noticing that he was practically giddy as we got back in the car after purchasing it. I had to ask, "Why are you so excited? Is it just because it's something new and different?" That is when he said it. "All I want is to get some good sleep and wake up ready for the day." Wow. This had really been a struggle for him.
It would be really easy for me to simply chuckle at that very adult statement from my little guy, but I had also come to realize how important this was to him. Kids struggle just like adults do, and it is up to us to notice that and do what we can to help them through it. As parents who started out rocking newborns at midnight, we all understand the power of a good night's sleep. Let's not forget that our kids get that as well. My eight year old hasn't been sleeping well, and it is affecting him the way it would affect anyone else.
What is important to your children? Do you know? What are they worried about? What can you do about it?
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