February 6, 2012


This is the Hello Kitty clock radio that sits on Lily's dresser.  The dresser of a nine, almost ten year old girl, with it's sticky-sweet smelling body spritz, fruit-scented shower gels, and strewn hair clips.

Lily is not a fan of Hello Kitty; the clock was a gift from a well-meaning family member. Although as you can see, she is not at all averse to hot pink -- the color she expressly chose for her freshly re-painted bedroom. (The makeover of which I promise to share soon.) 

This radio is very important to Lily, though, and to her well-being, and to her getting a good night's sleep.  Because, you see, Lily is a scaredy-cat.  By which I mean, she is a very anxious, high-strung child, the product of two anxious, hypochondriac, high-strung parents.  Lily has problems getting to sleep at night, and staying asleep.

Enter the clock radio.  Every night at lights-out time, the radio has to be turned on, and tuned to our local "smooth jazz" station.  The radio has to be left on all night: if the volume goes too low, or the sketchy signal fades to static, she'll wake with a start, and come into our bedroom, waking us to say that "something was wrong with my radio, but I fixed it!" 

It amuses me, to go into my daughter's room on my final bed-check before I turn in myself, and hear Kenny G. or Al Jarreau or some other silky, jazzy artist playing low on the Hello Kitty radio.   Sometimes I'll linger in her room, by the glow of the nightlight,  if it's a song I like, like "Baker Street," by the late, great Gerry Rafferty. I only linger if I can hear that she's truly, deeply asleep.

This is the routine in our house, at this point in time.  I hope that someday Lily will be able to fall asleep without everything in her room having to be just-so: the radio, the blinds open to a certain crack, her night-light on, the closet very shut, her door very open.  Someday.  It isn't monsters she fears, or boogie-men in the closet, but a free-floating anxiety, the stresses and worries of a fourth-grader's day coming home to roost.

For now, we have nights like this weekend, when she woke us with a nightmare at 2am on Friday night.  I couldn't fall back asleep that night until nearly 5 in the morning.  I then had insomnia myself the next two nights, made worse last night by my awareness that Lily was awake too, reading late and restless and, I knew, struggling with herself not to creep into our room to bring us into the problem: I'm still awake.

As Mondays go, this is a tough one: grainy, bleary, headachy.   Sleep tonight for all, let's hope.

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