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Life Is Too Short To Drink Bad Wine: 57 - Sleepless In New Zealand

ÖďOh Iím sorry, but Iím taking my daughter to the child and family clinic because she wonít sleep and I havenít had proper sleep for months and Iím trying to keep up with my husband and I havenít been driving very long and I donít know the way into the city and I need to keep him in sight and oh I am so tired!ĒÖ

After hearing Gayle Woodwardís outburst, the traffic policeman gave her a mild warning and returned to his car. And Gayle was left feeling annoyed with herself for re-acting in a female way.

Gayle's wonderfully frank story of family life in New Zealand is a reading treat. Click on Life Is Too Short To Drink Bad Wine in the menu on this page to read earlier chapters.

I had joined a baby sitting club with other mothers I had met at school and Kindy. We would sit for each other and get tokens in payment, which one could use to pay another mother to sit for oneís family. I was collecting a large pile of these tokens and could not spend them because it was common knowledge in the district that Karyn would not sleep. No one wanted a night entertaining a little girl after one had cared for oneís own all day.

I took Karyn to our new doctor to find out a way to stop her coming to our bed at night. He suggested that we go as a family to the Child and Family Clinic in Wellington City. There we would meet with experts in child behaviour.

I was upset that I could not solve this problem on my own after successfully and happily getting two older children through the toddler stage. But I agreed to go. I was becoming so tired with the broken sleep that we were getting that I was scared of getting dangerously angry with Karyn. Something ominous inside me told me I would hurt her if I didnít get help.

We took two cars into the city in the morning rush hour traffic, as Woody would go on to work after the session and I would bring all three children home. The boys travelled with their father, and I had Karyn with me in her car seat. I was unused to the heavy morning traffic and wanted to keep Woodyís car in view so I was diving from lane to lane on the motorway to keep up.

At one stage I passed him in the traffic, so pulled over to be behind him again. I heard a siren as a traffic policeman signalled me over to the side. He got out and sauntered to my car window. I thought, ďOh, my god!Ē and quickly realised that I needed to be assertive and use the skills that I had learnt. Right, I thought. I blurted, ďOh Iím sorry, but Iím taking my daughter to the child and family clinic because she wonít sleep and I havenít had proper sleep for months and Iím trying to keep up with my husband and I havenít been driving very long and I donít know the way into the city and I need to keep him in sight and oh I am so tired!Ē

I think the poor man was astounded. He stared at me, a mad woman? He told me to slow down and be careful then returned to his car. It annoyed me that this was a very female response to give and I had been trying to act more like a man, braver and less simpering. I smugly decided that it was good to be a woman, sometimes anyway.

The advice from the family experts was simple and good. They thought we had a very tight and loving family and that Karynís night time actions were a direct result of me leaving her at a vulnerable age, 15 months. We only had to let her know that our bed was not her bed. We were to make a proper little bed beside ours on a mattress on the floor. When she came in that night we were ready. ďNo, you canít come in here. Thereís no room,Ē we said. ďBut you can sleep beside us in that bed if you like.Ē

She made a fuss but got herself into the makeshift bed. We waited for the yells to start. We waited. And waited. Then we heard the most amazing thing as she said, ďIím not staying here, itís too cold!Ē She then took herself back to her own bed, which must have been at least as cold as the floor model, and went to sleep. We could not believe it. It was so easy and we had not thought of doing this.

Karyn never again came to our bed and family life took a turn for the better. At least the parents were not always tired.

Karyn turned three and turned into a beautiful and delightful little girl. She still showed an independent streak but now would play quietly with her babies for hours. She would read to her dolls the books that I had read to her, and it was word perfect.

She wanted her dolls to be real babies and to this end begged me to buy real nappies and a real bottle for the dolls. It took all my patience to make her understand that these dolls could not really eat the food she prepared them.

Mark was doing well at school and had a few friends although they were nothing like the friend he had had in Joseph. At Christmas that year Santa brought Mark a red two-wheeled bike. He had to wait till the sun had come up before he could take it out to try riding. Woody held the back of the bike so Mark could get used to using the pedals and he cycled off along the footpath. When he was going so fast that Woody could no longer keep up, he let go.

Mark immediately toppled over and crashed. He got himself up off the ground and stormed off saying, ďIím not going to ride that thing! I canít!Ē

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