WELL BALANCING ACT BY SAMMI JOHNSON
Usually an abrupt change from noise to complete silence is a warning sign.  Whether it’s your kids, pets or friends, silence often means suspicious behavior. I’m reminded of this now that our two kids are sharing a room. We have a toddler transitioning into a big-girl bed who doesn’t enjoy the act of going to sleep and a 1-year-old who fights the onslaught of sleep with everything he has.

I have fond and not-so-fond memories of sharing a space with my sister, college roommates and even my husband. There are trials and tribulations with every shared space and that fact doesn’t discount babies. Our cozy two-bedroom home left us no choice but to put the children together.

Faced with problems a new sleeping arrangement can cause, it also raised several questions. Do we put the baby to sleep first? Should the toddler go to sleep first? Down at the same time? Once we’ve fielded all of the toddler’s seemingly endless pre-bed demands of water, bathroom breaks, different blankets, questions about where her kitty cat is, a demand to pet the dog and anything else she can dream up to avoid actually going to bed, we bolt outside the room to let them figure it out.

We tend to hear lots of chatting, some laughing, some crying, and more laughing. But occasionally, there’s an abrupt silence, as was the case early on in this shared space transition process.

Eyebrows raised.

At first, I assumed they had happily and quietly gone to sleep, and I briefly indulged this obvious fantasy. I visualized my husband and I high-fiving, patting each other on the backs, congratulating ourselves and clearing a spot for our parents-of-the-year award. I was stunned. In hindsight, I learned it was too quiet for too long.

I glanced at the clock: 11:30 p.m. We made it! Only then did I start to hear faint noises, some shuffling around. I ignored it for a while. The noise increased to a level I could recognize as something definitely other than sleep, then I heard what sounded like a 3-year-old singing. I cracked the door open. Our eldest was caught red-handed inside of the crib of her once sleeping baby brother. She scrambled to the corner of the crib, attempting to hide from the sudden flood of light. She was only trying to teach patty-cake to her little brother, she explained. And then I noticed she was sporting a completely new outfit – an additional tutu, socks, slippers, a hat, and sitting next to a now-naked little boy, all thanks to her efforts.

The tiny giggles eventually overcame all of us.

The shared space is a work in progress, as is this whole journey of parenting. Each milestone is one for the memory book. Regardless of our lack of an extra bedroom, even if we had one, I’m not sure I’d choose to split them up at this age. Their love, bond and friendship are so pure that their midnight adventures and dramas that play out are fine by us. Now if I could only convince the free-roaming toddler, who is enjoying the newfound freedom a big-girl bed grants, that sneaking up on a sleeping momma and breathing slowly just inches from her face in the middle of the night really needs to stop.

Sammi is a mother, wife, business owner and production and marketing director at the Flathead Beacon in Kalispell. Have an idea for a column, or a story to share? Email sammi@flatheadbeacon.com.