…..and all through the house, pretty much everyone was sleeping, except my littlest mouse. He was so excited for his first day of school. Excitement for an event is a double-edged sword with Little Man. On the one hand, it’s awesome to see him get excited about school. On the other hand, excitement for something coming usually also brings with it a crazy level of anxiety. It’s been years since he went to sleep easily the night before the first day. Last night was certainly no exception.
His bedtime is 8:15. Well, that’s when he goes upstairs to brush his teeth, wash his face, and – in theory – read for a little bit before lights-out at 8:45. By 9pm, he’d been back downstairs five times, his face full of anxiety and worry. The tears started about 9:30. By 10, he’d been back down a few more times. I went up at 10:15. When I peeked into his room, he was quietly laying under his weighted blanket, eyes open. I could almost feel his stress. I tucked him in, told him to breath, and said goodnight.
At 11:30, he was in my bed. Spouse wanted him to go back to his room, but I knew it was a pointless battle, and needed him to sleep. I do think he slept for a bit, but at 2am, he was awake, tossing and turning. He went back to his own room. Moments later, I heard him crying. Sighing heavily, I made my way to his room. I lay beside him, trying to calm him, trying to get him to focus on anything but his anxiety for this morning to come. We breathed, counting in and out. I left him quietly counting, and went back to my own bed. Twenty minutes later, he was back in my bad, grasping my hand with his, holding them both close to his heart. Around 3am, we both finally dropped off to sleep.
I let him sleep as long as I possibly could this morning. When I went to wake him, he was already awake, with a smile on his face, and excitement to begin his day. Me? I’m on cup 3 of the mighty coffee. I may be saying a few bad words and lifting a certain finger towards autism today.
Anxiety is a real thing. Anxiety over good events is a real thing. I watch him struggle with this multiple nights a year – the night before his birthday/birthday party, the night before the last day of school, the night before the first day of school, and Christmas Eve. I can count on insomnia and tears. I can count on at least one meltdown. I can count on his face looking towards me for help. It doesn’t seem to get better no matter how many times we go through it. It doesn’t seem to get better no matter how much I pray he will have calm and sleep.
Autism won last night. We’re trying to not let it win today.