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Laura on Life

When a Child Can’t Sleep

June 9, 2010
Dysart Reporter


Laura Snyder

I schlepped into my kitchen early one morning, a little bleary-eyed. Everything was still a little fuzzy because I had only gotten out of bed minutes before. Things never look put together or well-organized in a house full of children, but really, shouldn't my cabinet knobs match? I rubbed my eyes and looked again, but it didn't get any better.

The top cabinet knobs seemed to match and, as I could recall, they were the same square brushed nickel knobs that were there when I went to bed last night. It was only the bottom cabinet knobs that had changed. Clearly, the culprit was short. I looked more closely and realized that the new knobs looked vaguely familiar. The knobs for my under-sink cabinet looked like the ceramic ones in my bathroom. The knob on my utensil drawer was round and brass-colored like the knobs on my computer desk.

In fact, every knob on the bottom half of my kitchen had been exchanged for one in another part of the house. I rubbed my tired eyes. What exactly happened here? I suddenly felt like going back to bed to try waking up again. Perhaps I didn't do it right the first time. Suddenly, my 8-year old burst into the kitchen. That's how 8-year olds arrive anywhere; they burst. "Isn't it pretty?" he asked excitedly. Ah. Things are beginning to make more sense. "Well, um, sort of. When did you do this?"

He seemed a little disappointed that I wasn't simply ecstatic about his redecorating efforts, but he answered. "I couldn't sleep last night, and I found a screwdriver, so I decided to make the kitchen pretty!"

My brain had barely come to a full boil yet, but many questions raced through my head: Was it that he couldn't sleep so he found a screwdriver?... Or that he found a screwdriver and he couldn't sleep knowing that he wasn't using it? How is it possible that he could have a different definition of the word "pretty" than I do?

And why didn't I hear him wandering around the house last night while I was sleeping? What kind of a mother am I? Realizing that my social calendar was wide open and there was no likelihood of visitors in my near future, I decided to take the easy way out. It was, after all, too early in the morning to have a rational conversation with an irrational 8-year old. "All right, we can leave it like this for a day or two, but eventually you'll need to put them all back.

Happy now, he skipped off to do Lord knows what. I wasn't too worried, though. If he'd been up all night, he'd fall asleep soon. I went to get dressed and realized my underwear drawer had no knobs. No problem. I had done a load of laundry yesterday. It was still in the dryer. As I shuffled to the laundry room, I noticed that nearly every knob in my house had been appropriated by my little interior designer.

It really didn't become a problem until the toilet paper roll ran out. I broke all of my fingernails trying to open the cabinet without a knob. Toilet paper is not an option. It was one thing that none of the knobs in my kitchen matched and quite another that the rest of the house had no knobs at all. I decided to have a talk with my boy. My husband told me that he had fallen asleep on the sofa while watching TV.

Resigned, I said, "Well, we'd better not let him sleep too long or he won't be able to sleep again tonight, and this time, instead of a screwdriver, he might find a blow torch."

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at Or visit her website



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