What I Tell My Son When He Can’t Fall Asleep

I’m making a giant paradigm shift as a parent

Scot Butwell
Human Parts
Published in
4 min readJan 24, 2024

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Author photo of my son around midnight.

It’s 2 a.m. I hear someone talking in our home. Is it coming from the living room? I try to figure out who is speaking.

Did someone leave on the TV?Is my wife watching a late-night show? No, she is in bed asleep next to me. Could it be YouTube playing an algorithm-picked playlist from my search history?

The voice varies in tempo and volume.It emphasizes keywords the way I encourage students in my ninth-grade English class every year when we read Romeo and Juliet out loud. The voice sounds like a mad in love teenager. Or Hamlet contemplating suicide in his “to be or not to be” soliloquy after his uncle kills his dad and marries his mom to steal the throne.

Then I realize it is my son.

He is in the bathroom. Spinning a story in front of the mirror. He has recently started doing this with his friends as the main characters. But he typically does it in the daytime hours and, yes, I consider yelling to my twelve-year-old son,

“Dominic, it’s two a.m. Go to sleep.”

That’s what I’m supposed to do as a dad. Be a dispenser of common sense, right? Eat your vegetables. Get eight hours of sleep per night. Clean your room.

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Scot Butwell
Human Parts

I am embarrassing according to teenage son. My jokes are terrible and I don't know when to stop annoying my son. I am the dad of an autistic son. A funny kid.