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Co-sleeping battle: The fight for more shuteye

I started blogging in 2013 to share some stories about my funny kids and their goofy dad. During that time, I realized how important gender issues are in raising children.

The enemy crept in under the cover of darkness. Neither of us noticed him until we saw the whites of his eyes, and by then it was too late. He was standing there, a silent predator in the night, and he scared the hell out of us. The invader won before we had time to defend ourselves. This master of stealth had no need for camouflage, preferring instead his favorite Ninja Turtle PJs.

Simon didn't even really creep in; he didn't have to. He just sidled right up to our bed and woke us up with a start. My wife and I glanced at the clock, 6:00 a.m., so I guess it wasn't even "night" and probably not that dark. It was too late to try to put him back in his bed, but, ugh, too damn early to wake up. So we sucked it up and snuggled. OK, we kind of liked it, too. The enemy is as adorable as he is sneaky. Sure, he'd give me a swift kick to the nuts every once in a while, but all is fair in love, war and the seemingly futile attempt as a parent to sleep just a little longer. I learned how to protect myself. The risk to my sack was worth the extra hour.

But I knew, in the back of our minds my wife and I both knew, though we didn't want to admit it, this was not going to end well.

Not shockingly, 6:00 a.m. soon became 4:00 a.m, then 2:00 a.m, which, on bad nights, has turned into 12:30 a.m. He's in there so long that I sometimes forget to protect my boys from my boy. Then he tries to freeze me out, working his way on top of the cover, denying me (though not his mother) any warmth. Forcing me into a corner of my own bed, curled in a ball, shivering my ass off and a little nervous I may get peed on is all just added insult to the injuries sustained from the repeated attacks his tiny fists and feet dole out.

A man can only take so much and I was starting to lose it. The sleep deprivation was getting to me. I love my son, but I really wanted to kill that little son-of-a-B! One of my parental philosophies has always been: Pick your battles. I decided that this was a war that had to be waged.

I'd bring him back to his room before he got in our bed. I'd sit with him until he fell back asleep. I'd wait until he fell back asleep in our bed, then take him to his room. Then sit with him some more. All with the same result: Almost as soon as I was back in my bed, he was right there next to me. Defeat after drowsy defeat.

Screw it. He won. I raised the white flag (actually one of his tiny socks casually discarded under our sheets three nights before).

But I really wanted that damn kid out of my bed! His sleep was getting increasingly restless and my nights were increasingly sleepless. Allie wasn't faring any better. She got more of the cover, but just as little of the bed. Once more to the brink! Sort of. This war could not be won with force; diplomacy was in order. I issued an ultimatum. "If you don't stop moving, you have to sleep in your bed." Somehow it didn't matter that he was still sleeping when I gave my proclamation (or that my previous attempts to keep him in his own bed repeatedly failed). He stopped kicking, allowed me to put him back under the blanket and we both fell asleep. Another night, he wouldn't stop thrashing, so I followed through on my threat. I put him down in his bed and covered him up... and he stayed there! Now there are even some (incredible!) nights when he doesn't get out of his bed at all.

It's not a perfect system. We're still co-sleeping and I still sometimes get kicked in the nads and poked in the eye, but the situation seems tenable. I picked my battle and made peace. I'd like to think of the end result as a compromise, but I know that's exactly what the enemy wants me to think. Sneaky, adorable, little bastard.

Image: Laura Leyshon/Getty Images
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