Building nests: nighttime comfort and belonging

Monkey Man and Gorilla Girl have, for the last several months, even for the last couple of years, been traveling in the middle of the night from their beds to ours. We have developed several theories about why they insist upon sleeping with us, but we don’t have any hard facts. Everything is conjecture.

Monkey Man has always preferred the floor to his crib or bed.  We sometimes wonder if this is connected to his first few months of life, when he slept on a mat in the orphanage in Lang Son. As unlikely as it seems, those early events seem to be imprinted upon us in ways we have yet to comprehend or understand.

Gorilla Girl’s travels have been somewhat more recent — and she has articulated recently that she likes our family to be together.  She emphatically does not like to be alone.  If Monkey Man stayed in his bed at night, there is a chance that Gorilla Girl would be comforted enough to stay, too. However, given Monkey Man’s impulse to find us, Gorilla Girl has no choice but to follow the family.

When I read The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier, these issues of completion, attachment, and being assured by the closeness of one’s family were ingrained in my consciousness.  Monkey Man and Gorilla Girl may temperamentally be more inclined to seek the comfort of family than other children.  In fact, I have known families who ascribe to the “family bed” philosophy, piling everyone in the same bed for several years with children who were biologically connected to their parents. But there may also be an element of the early trauma of separation that moves them on their nocturnal journeys.

When Monkey Man and Gorilla Girl began these journeys, they were physically smaller, and consequently, their space requirements in our bed were minimal.  We managed.  However, as they have grown, so has the space they require.  Gorilla Girl is a particularly active sleeper, and I’ve been swatted in the face, kicked in the back, and head butted more times than I can count. Sleeping with a five-year old every night has started to take its toll.  As my friend said, we had reached crisis stage and something had to change.

Enter the nest. Monkey Man’s comfy nest by the side of our bed gives him the security of proximity to us, and we figured that we could build two nests in order to give Gorilla Girl nearness while also allowing us to finally get a good night’s sleep. Monkey Man and Gorilla Girl are indeed like baby birds, taking small steps out of our nest, while also finding their way back again every night.

We convinced Gorilla Girl to give it a try with the enticement of a sleeping bag.  Gorilla Girl was game, and she exclaimed about the coziness of her new nest. Of course, we will have to move both Gorilla Girl and Monkey Man to their own beds at some point, and I am not sure when that time will come. Certainly, they will be sleeping in their own beds by the time they are dating!

These best laid plans were disrupted around 3 am, when Gorilla Girl woke up, crying about monsters in her sleeping bag.  We cajoled, promised, even issued threats of “consequences,” until finally Gorilla Girl was able to fall asleep — to the promise of a “treat” if she would give a calm night of sleeping another chance tonight. I suppose we should not expect our new plan to be instantly successful, and given the complexities of adoption, realize that it will take time for Gorilla Girl to slay her monsters.

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This entry was posted in adoption, children, family, motherhood, night time rituals and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Building nests: nighttime comfort and belonging

  1. Fun! A camp out in sleeping bags!

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