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“He Has Figured Out a Lot”

For a long time, falling asleep has been a big challenge for my eight-year-old son. We have tried lots of things—wrestling, cuddling, chatting, him lying on top of me, me massaging him. Co-Counselors have come and been with us as he tried to fall asleep. It has been hard for me to sustain attention, given my own distress, and I have had to discharge on my own sleep issues.

After our most recent family workshop,1 he proposed that we do a mini-session in bed before sleep. We had never done a two-way session. I followed his lead and we gave it a whirl2—three nights in a row and then several times after that. He wants to have and give three kinds of sessions—laughing sessions, fighting-for-oneself sessions, and talking sessions. He decides when and if we have these sessions, and when they are over. They usually last a couple of minutes.

The first time, he decided that I would be client first. I was lying down, and he sat on top of me and gave me lovely attention. I started laughing. After two minutes he said, “Now we are going to do a different type of session.” He lay on top of me and told me to push. I began to push. He said, “Keep fighting. You are strong.” The third time was on the night before I would be away at a workshop. I told him I was going to miss him, and he touched his hand to his heart and then to mine. I immediately started crying and cried for a minute or two until he said it was time to stop. (It may well be the sweetest session I have ever had!)

More recently he has been asking me about hard things in my childhood. One night I said that I missed my mom when I was at school. He said (in a stern voice), “You have to go to school now. And you won’t see your mother there!” He understands that his job as counselor is to help me look at things that were hard.

I also give him laughing and fighting sessions. He is using his talking sessions to tell me things. Last night he told me that he was worried there would be a fire and he would die.

So far he is not falling asleep more quickly. If anything, it is actually taking longer. However, he has figured out a lot: that I (not just he) could use sessions before sleep, how to make things lighter and get us both discharging, and how to bring us even closer before sleep.

New York, New York, USA

1 An RC family workshop is a workshop at which young people and adults (both parents and allies) interact in ways that allow the young people to show and be themselves and not be dominated by the adults. They include time for children to do whatever safe activities they want to do, with the encouragement and appreciation of the adults, and to discharge if they wish. They also include discharge time for the adults.
2 “Gave it a whirl” means tried it.

Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00