Every parent deals with sleep, at some time or another. I’ve been going through our photos documenting this past 1 1/2 year experience with our boys, and a pair of photos taken on our first day home brought the whole “sleep” story of the past year back to my mind.
Ethiopia is 8 hours ahead of EST (7 hours now during DST, which they don’t observe). I cannot recall, now, what time of day we actually arrived after our grueling 24hr transcontinental flight at about 3:30pm Sunday afternoon. Daughter Shanthi, who had been house- and pet-sitting for us during our week away, picked us up at the airport, and brought us home. We had dinner, and went to bed. The next day, we were having fun introducing boys to our home, and comparing the photos in the album we’d sent S with the “reality” of his new home. After lunch, we whipped out our handy “Simple Amharic for Adoptive Families” phrasebook (see post on Language), and pronounced the words “Yeh-ihn-KILF seH-AHT nohw.” (Time to take a nap), and he trotted off to sleep…it was like magic!! And, J, with the help of the soporific bottle of milk, fell asleep as well. And, that afternoon, they slept, and they slept, and they slept… We finally had to wake them up around 8pm to give them dinner, and then got them back to bed, only to have them wake up at 2am, wide-eyed and bushy-tailed!!!
We realized that 2pm here basically was bedtime in Ethiopia, and so, they fell asleep and their bodies expected a good 8hr stretch of sleep. Then, waking them up for dinner was interrupting that sleep, and the couple of hours they got at night was more like a nap for them, equivalent to a morning nap in the time zone 8hrs ahead of us!! It took two weeks to get their clocks to reset…
And the, sadly, the magic phrase “Yeh-ihn-KILF seH-AHT nohw.” failed. Right about at the two week mark, when they settled into EST zone, S decided that he had no more interest in naps. As I recall, he may have been willing to have “quiet time” in his bed with a book while J slept, but that didn’t last either, and it became his quiet/TV time.