Yesterday's mail brought a letter from G's school, scolding me for the number of times she's been late this year. I know this is nothing personal -- it's a form letter that they customize and send out to everyone whose child has X number of tardies or absences. (I got the same letter when G was in kindergarten because she'd been sick several times and had missed more than 5 days of school as a result.) Still, it's annoying, both because it makes me feel like a deadbeat parent and because I'm supposed to sign the bottom of it, just below the line that reads "I have read this letter and will take steps to improve my child's attendance, blah blah" and return it to the school. It's not unlike being in school myself and getting sent home with a note for my mommy to sign because I've behaved badly, only in this case I am the mommy.
As it happens, the reason we've had so much trouble getting to school on time lately is because G's sleeping problems have grown exponentially worse over the last few months. We're not just dealing with the normal don't-wanna-go-to-bed complaining all kids do to some degree, but the vicious cycle of true insomnia, where she worries about not being able to sleep and is upset when her worries become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Lately she's been lying awake, intermittently moaning "I can't sleeeeeeeep," until almost 11 p.m. every night. This is not good. I considered the possibility that she just might not need as much sleep as kids her age are "supposed" to need, but rejected it because 1.) she says she's tired in class, 2.) she's half-comatose in the morning, leading to lateness, and 3.) she's as grumpy as a bear most of the time. On the rare nights when she does fall asleep early (because she's so exhausted she can't help it), she's like a different kid the next day -- cheerful, calm and cooperative.
I've already been through the insomnia battle with P, who spent the last several years of his life on a constantly changing parade of sleeping pills that didn't work (and in one case, made him psychotic), so I know how hard it is to combat. We've already tried a series of home remedies for G -- eating bananas, sleeping with a lavender aromatherapy pillow, listening to soothing music, backrubs -- but none of them have worked for more than one or two nights. She's not worried about anything as far as I can tell, and she doesn't have more than the normal quota of nightmares you'd expect from an 8-year-old. She just can't sleep, and I don't know why. But I do know I resent having my hand slapped by the district (not the school -- the staff have all been supportive of our situation and are just doing what's required of them) because of it. I wrote a brief note on the portion of the letter I'm supposed to return, explaining that she's having these problems and we're trying different strategies to solve them, so we'll see what happens.