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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, November 11, 2001

Family Matters
Columnist left cranky by household sleep interruptions

By Ka'ohua Lucas

I awoke with a start. The hairs on my forearm were standing on end.

What was that noise? It sounded like the clinking of glassware.

I lay in my bed motionless, letting my ears adjust to the sound. The clock on my nightstand glowed 12:11 a.m.

Then I heard it again i a faint clatter coming from the kitchen.

I slunk out of bed and tiptoed into the hallway making my way to the noise. As I rounded the corner, I saw a shadow skulking in the darkness.

"Hi, Mom, I was thirsty," my 11-year old mumbled into his glass of water.

"I was wondering who that was in my kitchen," I said. "You almost gave me a heart attack!"

"Sorry, Mom."

As he padded back to his bedroom, I groped my way back to bed.

12:31 a.m. the clock reminded me as I gratefully slipped into slumber.

"Mommy, Mommy," a voice called out from somewhere in the bowels of the house.

As I struggled from a semi-conscious state, a silhouette appeared in the doorway. I turned blearily toward the alarm clock, 2:23 a.m.

"What's the matter, honey?"

"I had a bad dream," my youngest whimpered.

"Oh, sweetie, come here," I said. "Don't worry."

"Can I sleep with you and Daddy, Mommy?"

I gently nudged my husband to the edge of the bed so that my

7-year-old could snuggle in between us.

"Good night, sweetheart," I yawned.

"'Night, Mommy."

I drifted off to sleep and dreamed about dogs.

Dogs barking.

Dogs sniffing.

Dogs scratching.

What was that?

I struggled to open my eyes. 4:07 a.m.

"Honey, I can't find the brown aloha shirt with the hula girl print," my husband said as he stood in front of our closet, sorting through his hanging garments.

The plastic coat hangers scraped against the metal bar as he shoved with irritation each shirt he inspected to one side.

Scratch, scratch, scratch.

"My God, it's 4 o'clock in the morning. Why on earth are you looking for a shirt at this time?"

"I've got a plane to catch at 6. Will you just tell me where the shirt is?"

"Why don't you get a flashlight? Then you can see better."

"All right," he said crossly as he snatched the flashlight from his dresser. "I'm looking, and I still can't find it."

It was 4:10 a.m., and I was feeling pretty testy myself. "Just give me that flashlight!"

As I shone the light into the closet, we found that the brown aloha shirt with hula girls must have fallen off the hanger. It was crumpled and in a heap on the floor.

"There it is!" I hissed. "Now, can I get a few more winks of sleep before I have to face the world at 5?"

"Yeah, sure," he whispered. "By the way, can you take the kids to school today? I've got to make that plane."


Many of us with families understand sleep deprivation.

If we are not tending to an ailing child in the middle of the night, we are fetching water, soothing children from nightmares or (as in my case) helping husbands find mislaid shirts.

Interrupted sleep can make us feel crotchety, lethargic and down-right exhausted. Caring for one's family is tiring work i 10 times more exhausting than one night of sleep deprivation. Hawaiian culture and language scholar Mary Kawena Puku'i had a phrase for it in her reference book 'Olelo No'eau: He hana maka 'ena'ena. A task that requires so much work it deprives one of sleep.

Ka'ohua Lucas has an 18-year-old daughter and two sons, 11 and 7. She hold a master's degree in education curriculum and instruction, and works as a consultant on Hawaiian curriculum. Write: Family Matters, 'Ohana Section, The Honolulu Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802; e-mail ohana@honoluluadvertiser.com or fax 535-8170.