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Like a lot of parents, wifey and I treasure the hour between 9 and 10 or so, when the kids are in bed and we have two seconds to hang out and be with each other as we were in the pre-kids life.

Uh, at least we’d like to treasure that time. Lately, Dar is making that hard with his whimpering. Soft sobs that go on and on, like you’d hear from an animal in a bear trap.

Longtime readers know that Dar had longtime sleep issues. We sorta-solved that with Benadryl, which we still give him every evening. He almost never wakes us up at 3 or 4 anymore – he sleeps til dawn now. That’s a great mercy. Mercy, mercy.

But the going to bed part has become trickier of late.

Sometimes he lies on the couch in our living room, watches TV with us in the 9 to 10 hour, and falls asleep. I suppose this is okay, although one, I hear bad things about that TV light on your brain, and two, in this situation I have to carry Dar upstairs to bed. He’s getting heavy for this move. Leaving him for the night, tucked in with blankets on the living room couch, further from us and closer to whatever burglar might break in, is a non-starter.

We don’t always watch TV between 9 and 10. And even when we do, Dar isn’t always quietly watching it with us. Sometimes he’s still tee-tee-tee-ing at that hour: pacing around the house in his stomping bare feet (the house is freezing but somehow he keeps pulling off his socks) saying “tee-tee-tee.” Noises seem louder after the sun goes down, anyone else notice that?

Sometimes we say, “Dar, bedtime. Go to your room.” He usually responds with “UNH!” which means “I don’t want to.” Hey, at least he can communicate that; a year ago, he couldn’t. Every so often, he’ll listen to that command and just walk upstairs and put himself to bed. That’s like a national holiday in our house.

More often, especially lately, he won’t. So for the sake of a few minutes of blessed peace, and uh, to put him to bed, we will simply put him in his room and lock the door. Long ago, we installed a little five-dollar latch on the door so that we could lock it from the hallway. Does every parent do this? Just the parents of special-needs kids? It’s not necessary in the case of our neuro-typical child (although there’s one on his door too, only because the kids have swapped rooms).

Now comes the whimpering. It’s not the same as all-out screaming. It’s not exactly Ferberizing over here. It’s more of a “nn-nnn,” like a trapped animal, like I said. It sounds like he’s being slowly tortured. It’s demoralizing. Perhaps I should add that there’s no inherent problems with his bed. No, we don’t put him to sleep in a hairshirt.

How many people have a 7-year-old who whimpers himself to sleep?

We have a tenant in the in-law unit of our house, which shares a wall with Dar’s room. I know, first world problems. Anyway, I assume she hears the whimpering as well. I have asked her about it during daylight hours and she says she doesn’t. She might be too nice to say anything. So…my guilt is there.

(I have no idea if she reads this blog. If I were her, I would have googled me by now, but that doesn’t mean she bothers to keep up with this thing: not everyone has your strength, dear reader.)

If Dar is still whimpering when I go to bed at 10, well…it’s hard for me to sleep. I can hear him through ear plugs. I can hear him while I toss and turn. I can hear him in my dreams. And Cthulhu knows, the last thing I need is less sleep. My face has aged more in the last four years than in the previous forty. Frankly, the last month didn’t help; anyone else feel like you aged about 10 years on November 9?

I suppose the bright-side perspective is that Dar might be going through a stage that toddlers go through. I remain in awe of parents of special-needs kids who can instantly tell you their kid’s mental age. This comes up whenever an autistic kid goes missing. “He’s 12, but has the mental capacities of a 3-year-old.”

It’s that easy to pinpoint? Never for us.

I’ve written more enjoyable posts. I know that. But today, I felt like whimpering about the whimpering. Thanks for understanding.