c. Transition to Bed:
Courtney is a charming, gregarious, 4-year old African-American girl who will not go to bed at night. For 3 years, she has insisted on sleeping with her mother, and her father, who came from Haiti to Boston as a teenager, has long since slept alone. She is a restless sleeper and kicks her mother in her sleep, keeping her mother awake. The pattern began with the coincidence of two adverse events in the family. At 1-year old, Courtney was hospitalized briefly with bronchiolitis, and after her hospitalization she was diagnosed with asthma. At the same time, her father took a second job driving a taxi in order to meet the needs of his expanding family (he had two children from a previous family that he was helping to support).
After bringing Courtney home from the hospital, her mother took her into her bed to make sure she was breathing normally during the night. Her father went back to work at night and returned late in the morning. Courtney’s mother does not work outside the home but cares for two other children in an informal day care arrangement. Courtney’s mother is a beautiful young woman but looks tired and wan. She has lived in Boston for about 6 years now. She moved to Boston with an older sister from South Carolina, but her sister didn’t like the city and returned to the South. By that time, Courtney’s mother had met her now husband and decided to stay.
Courtney began kindergarten at the public school several months ago, in September. Her teacher described her as “active and curious”. She told her mother that Courtney had a hard time sitting still in circle time and had to sit next to the assistant teacher for support. Her speech was immature, and she was often disorganized and needed help following the classroom routine. She also told her mother that Courtney sometimes put her head down on her desk and seemed tired; the teacher asked her mother if Courtney were getting enough sleep. Courtney’s mother was unhappy with the progress reports, because she felt the teacher “did not know” Courtney. She thought that Courtney was smarter than her teacher gave her credit for. She also felt blamed by the teacher’s suggestion that Courtney might not be getting enough sleep.
Courtney’s mother is stricter with Courtney than with the other children in her care. She tells Courtney that she wants her to “grow up to be somebody”. She also reminds her that the way she can do that is to “do good in school”. She is determined to help her daughter succeed and worries that the school will not do their part. She gets very frustrated with Courtney for not sleeping in her own bed. She tells her, “When I was growing up, I had to sleep in a bed with three kids! Now you have a bed of your very own, and you won’t sleep in it! What’s the matter with you?!”