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Seeing how Thai families sleep together and Gaow (sorry, Alexander) had never had a bedtime, I knew that evenings would be a bit difficult.  I never suspected just how many problems they would cause, however, and they do seem to be getting worse.  I'd been lulled into a false sense of accomplishment when — by the end of his first week living here — Tim's (sorry, our) son seemed to be adjusting to having his own room to himself and at least trying to go to bed between nine and ten o'clock.  That was then...

As I've said, most Thai families usually sleep in the same room and generally all on one large floormat until the children grow up and move into their own house (if, in fact, they do so).  Tim slept with her parents until she was 24 years old and this is the norm rather than the exception!  Who's to say this is better for a child's development or not but in this instance I wanted to keep one little Western tradition alive in our household (not to mention I still consider my wife and I to be newlyweds).  Thus, Gaow would sleep in his bed in his own room while his parents would sleep in theirs (we haven't yet told him his newly-coined middle name — saving that for a special dinner party tomorrow — so I feel funny referring to him by Alex yet).  There weren't any real problems with this — Tim explained that farang children slept alone and that seemed to do the trick, although she did spend the first couple of nights laying on the bed until he fell asleep before sneaking out.  By the third night he seemed secure and happy when we bid him "Goodnight."

The nine o'clock bedtime was also implemented rather easily (at first).  In fact, the process was begun at nine or shortly before with a shower and teeth-brushing.  I stressed to my wife that relaxation was as good as sleep — telling a child "Go to sleep" is guaranteed to make him want to stay awake; as long as he was laying in bed with the light off at a reasonable time this was okay.  I felt he could then easily drift off to sleep.  Again, this went reasonable well for the first week.

But then he spent a night at Jum's and Lek's home.  I know they kept him up late (despite my asking Tim to make sure they got Gaow to bed by ten).  I know they spoiled him by buying him a bunch of toys and junk food (this is where the aquarium came from).  Nadia had stayed at our house while Gaow was away that night (she's kind of afraid of him); Tim retrieved him around noontime and when they were leaving so she could take Nadia to work in the evening he raised bloody hell when we told him he couldn't go see Jum.  He ran around inside the house and then ran up the soi towards the main road.  Tim caved in and he got another night staying with Lek and Jum.

Our evenings have been miserable ever since...

It's been virtually impossible to get him into the shower much before ten, despite serious efforts on both our parts.  And he won't go to sleep alone, finding all sorts of excuses so my wife won't leave him — the endless claims of stomach aches, headaches, itchy back, etc. are wearing thin.  When Tim does try to call his bluff and head away he starts screaming like he's being tortured.  Usually, Tim will end up sleeping in there with him; she tried one night to stay away but he went outside and started pounding on our bedroom window!  Last night, she had him come and sleep in our bed which caused the two of them to sleep like babies but I managed to find sleep for perhaps 90 minutes at most (I'm a VERY light sleeper and also need more space than three in a bed can allow).  I hadn't slept much the nights that Tim slept in Gaow's room, either.

Tonight has been the worse by far — I think we finally got him settled in by eleven before retreating to our room.  We watched a bit of television before turning in and Tim dropped off like a rock.  Meanwhile, I kept hearing sounds coming from the back bedroom and in the living room (I also have VERY good hearing); I knew it was Gaow prowling around (his usual modus operandi as usually his mother hears me telling him to go back to his room and she gets up and goes in to sleep with him).  I thought I'd give him the benefit of the doubt, that he'd eventually realize nobody was coming out and he'd retire.  It didn't work out that way...around 2:30 I heard a large crash and went out to investigate.  He had pushed our new microwave oven off of the kitchen counter.  He'd also painted on our (rental) sofa , and poured something (salad dressing, I think) over Tim's laundry basket.

I took his arm, scooted him into his bedroom, shook my finger at him saying "Taluung" (Thai for "naughty"), and closed the door.  Tim hadn't awoken at the sound of the microwave crashing to the floor (amazingly, it still seems to work) and I didn't want to bother her with this tonight.  I set to work cleaning up as much of the mess as I could (thank God that we had the foresight to buy water-soluable paints), all the while hearing Gaow shuffling around in his room.  Satisfied I had restored as much order as I could to the living room and kitchen at this late hour, I looked in on our son once again.  He had the bedroom and bathroom lights on and was standing by the door; I shut off the lights, got him onto the bed, and told him it was late and he needed to sleep.  As soon as I closed the door, the lights went back on so I turned these off at the master breaker.

I don't know what to tell Tim in the morning but something needs to be done so he doesn't destroy all of our property.  A straightjacket comes to mind...