My youngest child Violet has held many nicknames over the years: Little Red, The Beast, Weebie, Beebs, tiny dancer. However, the nickname that stuck for a good number of days gone by was, “She who does not sleep.” Violet didn’t sleep through the night until the ripe old age of 7.
Her siblings did the normal baby thing. Maisy even slept through the night at four weeks because she’s just always been a good girl. Wyatt clocked in at five weeks, and James at six. Violet has always taken everything to extremes, so she kind of outdid herself on this one.
You’d be surprised how much sleep you actually need to function on as the adult mother of four children. Even more surprising is just how inventive you will get to catch some Zzzz’s when you’re averaging three to four hours of sleep for seven years. More often than not, I could be found sound asleep in the school pick up line waiting on the kids to dismiss from school. Asleep in the student office at EIU while on break, and sometimes possibly asleep, while awake … which was harder to master, but I got pretty good at it.
Eventually, as she got older, I was able to start sleeping and trusting her to stay in her room at night. It wasn’t entirely restful, and I kind of channeled Metallica: “Sleeping with one eye open.” One particular evening, I was certain Violet was going to sleep through the night. She was three years old, and enrolled in pre-k – this meant she was pretty active all day long. Vi had also helped me sort her old baby clothes that night, giving some away and storing special items in the cedar chest. She seemed tired. I felt hopeful.
We did our night-time routine of driving around for an hour to get her tired, coming home to read a story and then tucking her into bed – and she actually fell asleep. Gleefully, I dashed to my bedroom, certain that I would get a chance to sleep all night long. I remember cozying into my pillow, cuddling my blanket and instantly drifting off to sweet dreams.
However, what happened next was more of a nightmare.
Two little hands pulled my blanket. I rolled over and rubbed my eyes. “Mama. Look at me.”
I tried, but my eyes weren’t awake yet. “Why? What’s wrong Violet?” I said while attempting to wake up from the first solid sleep I’d had in three years.
“Mama, look, look at my hair.”
I have a long and storied history of hair drama in my house, but that’s a tale for another day. However, due to all of my previous hair episodes, I was immediately on high alert.
“Why. Why do I need to look at your hair?” I blinked my eyes, forcing them to be awake, and found myself staring at a child who looked like Violet, but who had considerably less hair.
“VIOLET! What did you do to your hair?”
“I cut it mama. Mama, come see!”
She ran off into the living room, and I followed … rubbing my eyes and slapping myself, hoping that I was doing one of my asleep while awake things, but I had no such luck.
When I got to the living room, there appeared to be a skinned Muppet on the floor, but that just turned out to be most of Violet’s red hair. Not only had she cut it, she had pretty much almost scalped herself. It was the closest thing to a Pixie cut a small child could do on their own.
She pointed to the pile of hair, that I had mistaken for a Muppet, giggling, “I cut my hair! See?”
Then she twirled around, and that is when I noticed she was also wearing the Easter dress from when she was around nine months old.
This immediately reminded me of the movie “Sixteen Candles” because of the female character who ends up with her hair chopped off, and she is wearing a pinkish dress. The girl who doesn’t end up with Jake Ryan. … See what happens to people with bad hair? I was instantly concerned.
Also, Violet looked like a high school prom queen who simply had one heck of a banger night, and a lot of regrets. The dress didn’t fit very well, so it was kind of off the shoulders … short, dare I say risqué.
I immediately started crying.
“Mama, why are you crying. I so beautiful.”
I smiled through the tears and told her that yes, she was beautiful and then asked her where the scissors were.
“I put them back in Maisy’s room. That’s where I got them.”
I immediately was enraged at Maisy and her sewing scissors (which was not fair but I was not firing on all cylinders).
It took almost 20 minutes to clean up all that fine red hair from our hardwood floors. When I was finally done, I turned to find Violet, crashed out on the living room recliner. Tiny dress, tiny amounts of hair, tiny snores.
The next morning, in the light of day, Violet decided that she indeed was not “so beautiful,” as her haircut was uneven. We had to have an emergency Sunday haircut with a local barber who specialized in “little boy haircuts … for little girls.”
People thought she was a little boy for years, and that did NOT make her happy. So, in retaliation she has been growing her hair out ever since. It’s almost to her waist now. Violet also sleeps through the night, which is a major bonus.
The only thing she’s still doing is attempting to wear her tiny baby clothes, but I can’t win them all. I’ll take this one loss.