updated 8 Aug 2011, 13:34
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Mon, Jun 27, 2011
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Three's a crowd - in bed
by Clara Chow

I have a boomerang kid.

Every night, my five- year-old son, Julian, falls asleep in a king-sized bed, wedged like a chaperone between his parents.

Like devious spies, the Supportive Spouse and I sleep with one eye open. We wait until Julian is snoring away, and then we carry out our covert operation.

I give the signal, and open the bedroom door.

Quick as a flash, the SS picks up Julian like a sack of potatoes. Then, he carries him out into the living room, and deposits him gently on a mattress on the floor, right next to our younger son, Lucien, who has been sleeping peacefully every night there by himself for all 20 months of his existence.

We tiptoe back into the room, trying not to wake the boys up. And then we fall back into bed, feeling triumphant.

Each night, the triumph is short-lived. If we’re lucky, hours may pass. If we’re not, then just minutes go by.

But Julian will always wake up and creep back into bed with us. And so, the process is repeated.

A few months ago, a reader e-mailed me to ask if it’s normal to have one’s preschooler still sleeping in one’s marital bed. I replied that it’s a good question, one that I’ve been struggling with myself.

“But kids grow up so fast,” I wrote back. “Who wouldn’t want to spend every waking – and sleeping – moment with them?”

I still stand by that answer. But I’m starting to wonder if Julian is going to sleep with his Papa and I until he is 14 years old – a slightly terrifying prospect.

We used to have a queen- sized bed, with a separate sofa bed next to it, to accommodate any spillover of sleeping figures.

Then, last year, we decided to swop that bedroom arrangement for a king-sized,15-inch mattress and bed frame.


And it was a good thing we did, too: In recent months, Lucien has started climbing into bed with us in the morning, after he wakes up.

Sleeping four to a bed means a lot of people get kicked in the face and groin.

I thought my situation was bad, until a fellow mummy told me that someone she knew slept four to a bed, too – in a queen bed. “Maybe everyone sleeps like they’re in a coffin,” she said, adding: “Cannot move.”

The thought cracked me up.

But seriously, I have tried various methods to banish my “boomerang kid” from my boudoir.

We bought Julian a lovely double-decker bed from Ikea, complete with a dark-blue starry canopy, in a bid to make him sleep in his own room. By the way, his room is the prettiest in the whole house, with whimsical animal Roman blinds, light- blue ceilings and a study table.

Uh, uh. No can do.

He refuses to sleep there at night. And even when we accompany him to bed in the bottom bunk, he refuses to fall asleep.

The double-decker bed is now storage space for toys.

Lock the door, suggested one of my colleagues, a yummy mummy of a toddler, who sleeps beautifully in her own cot.

Well, the problem with that is that my five-year-old is adept at twisting the doorknob, before knocking continually, saying: “Excuse me. Excuse me. Can someone open the door for me?”

Who can resist such a polite kid? We cave in. We always do.

Perhaps, getting kids to sleep on their own is a modern parenting maxim that is taken more seriously in the West than it is here.

Recently, the Toronto Globe And Mail newspaper even had a column: “My parenting secret: I let my kids sleep in my bed”. In it, a mother revealed that she bucked the parenting trend of viewing sleep-by-themselves kids as the gold standard.
I always envy some parents who can put their kids to bed by 7pm, and then relax with a glass of wine in hand together.

Yet I realise that perhaps I’m just one of those kiasu mums who cannot curb her workaholic tendencies, who wants to parent 24/7, even when the kids are asleep.

Will I ever succeed in my quest to reclaim my bed? Check back with me in nine years.

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