Friday, 4 November 2011

The Meaning of Excitement

Excited.  It’s a word, which is oft overused, particularly in celebrity circles where it’s standard PR patter for stars touting their latest TV show/fragrance/ clothing line.  How many times have you heard the line:  “I love working with him/her.  It’s a great opportunity and I’m really excited?”  Excited, in this context, usually means: “eager to cash that cheque.”

We all know and use the word, but how many of us in adulthood feel truly excited?  For me, the prospect of a holiday, a brand new pair of boots or even an extra hour in bed, can evoke something akin to excitement, but it’s relatively short lived.  The last time I experienced the genuine article was after the birth of my son.  But babies grow into little people, and over time, excitement is somehow tempered by worry and the kind of nervous energy, which drives all mothers to constantly evaluate their children’s happiness, health and ability to cope at school.

No, if you want to see pure, unadulterated excitement, then just study your children.  Only this morning, our son gasped and said “Wow” with really-mean-it expressiveness at a rudimentary homemade pirate ship whittled out of a piece of wood by his grandfather.  I just know that tonight will be a late one, as he will insist on taking the ship to bed with him, his imagination overpowering any desire to sleep.  He will be transported onto the high seas as a pirate captain, the duvet his ocean.

Such nocturnal activities I sometimes consider a problem, given the demands of school.  However, this is part of our son’s make-up.  From very early on, he didn’t sleep as much as other babies and small children.  We tried just about every parenting trick in the book, but if not in the mood for sleep; he would simply stay awake until such time as he burnt out.  The slightest whisper of an interesting day ahead or the promise of something new (no matter how small) could and still does, add hours on to bedtime, such is his excitement.  In addition, a late night would not guarantee a late morning - quite the opposite in fact.  As soon as the first light of dawn found its way beyond the curtains (we now black out the windows), he would be awake and raring to go, the previous night’s cause of excitement still fresh in his mind.

The trials and tribulations of a child who fights sleep have prompted me to write my own book (Diary of a Sleep Deprived Mum) aimed at parents, particularly those who have suffered at the sharp end of sleep deprivation.  It’s in diary format and autobiographical, so you can all learn from and laugh at my mistakes!

However, I too am learning, slowly, to rein in my own enthusiasm on occasions when it might instigate a night of wakefulness.  A perfect example would be the coming weekend.  We are intending to visit our local RSPCA to select a longed for kitten to become our family pet.  Yet our son is currently in blissful ignorance of this fact, in order that my husband and I stand a fighting chance of having an undisturbed Friday evening.  It took a while for me to realise the necessity of this approach, as I have always like to share plans with all and sundry.  But the reality is that our son’s excitement would result in a lack of sleep until Saturday - and possibly throughout the following week - until such time as we are able to bring the kitten home.  I, for one, could do without having a tired and grouchy child to contend with.  Tired, grouchy and over-excited do not make for a good combination.

Therefore, we will wait until Saturday morning and then break the news en route.  So if on Saturday, you listen carefully and are convinced that you are hearing the first sporadic fireworks of November 5th, this may just be the resulting crackle of excitement and air punching emanating from one over-excited six-year-old boy!