Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

The Death of Free Time

Life is full of interesting things. Lots of fun projects are bubbling around in my personal Possibilitysphere; I hope they all coalesce into actuality. (Vague enough for you? Well, I don’t want to scare the Possibilities away by speaking of them any more specifically.)

I took a whole night off from writing after finishing The Deep Woods. I aimlessly wandered through my house all evening and went to bed much earlier than usual. Dreadful. So last night I dove back into work, doing a 1,000 word story for a project that has attained actuality, but which I’m unprepared to discuss in detail yet. The story’s a mash-up of Dora the Explorer and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, in about a thousand words. (As my friend Melissa pointed out, Dora is probably far better prepared for the jungle than poor Marlowe was.) Sometimes I just sit around and cackle to myself. I love my brain.

I also love my kid… though he’s doing unlovable stuff lately. The bedtime power struggle continues. Peacefully leading him back to bed when he gets up works, I guess, but very, very slowly. Last night we led him back to bed about 50 times — literally — before he finally fell asleep. Heather and I have lost entire evenings lately to kid bedtime drama, which sucks, since that’s our only real free time as a couple — and also my main writing time. (Remember: I have a full-time day job, so the books get written on nights and weekends.) I really hope he gets over this soon, but he’s firmly enmeshed in the Terrible Threes, so I don’t really expect things to get better in the near future. Sigh. He used to be such a good sleeper. Last night he went to bed at 10 and got up at 6 this morning. BRUTAL.

3 Responses to “The Death of Free Time”

  1. Rmw Says:

    I have no experience with this, but what is the consequence if you didn’t lead him back to bed but just sort of ignore him completely if he doesn’t stay in bed?

    I imagine he would get pretty bored and it being late would just kind of pass out from boredom.

    If not the next day wouldn’t he be exhausted and fall asleep easily enough.

    Dunno I’m sure as a parent everyone is full of suggestions an I’m less qualified than anyone I know. Just curious since we’re going to have kids soon what I’m getting myself into.

  2. admin Says:

    If you ignore him completely he jumps on your head and yells. Or alternately attempts to destroy the world. Some kids do indeed just fall asleep wherever they happen to be hanging out when they get exhausted, but our son has never done that, not even once. He’ll fall asleep in the car or the stroller or in bed, but never just wandering around.

    And as for being exhausted the next day and falling asleep easier… not really. Not reliably, anyway. On nights he stays up late he tends to wake up hours earlier than usual, because his sleep cycle has been disrupted.

    Good luck with having kids! Hard to say what you’re getting into. Every kid is different. (I have a friend with a three year old who has never, ever slept through the night. He wakes up every few hours. Consequently, my friend hasn’t had a full night’s sleep in three years.) Our son was an amazingly good sleeper early on, sleeping through the night reliably from the time he was six months old or so. But in the past few weeks, as part of the natural boundary-pushing most toddlers go through, he’s been pushing to see how much he can get away with, and bedtime is his chosen theater of combat.

  3. Michael Says:

    That’s tough, Tim, and it’s a fine line to tread. When I first baby sat for toddlers, my wife’s then 5 and 3 year old nephews, I didn’t know how to keep them in bed so ended up telling them firmly that if they step onto the floor the red-backed-child-muncher will reach out from under the bed and drag them in to eat them all up.

    Their parents arrived back later to find them huddled on the same bed, about as far away from the edge as they could be, and crying.

    How was I to know they’d never been told about monsters under the bed?

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