A weary mother rises mechanically and plucks the child from his bed. His feathery hair smells like a bath and is sticking straight up on his head. He makes eye contact with his mom through the grey shapes of the house, and he smiles. He squeals happily. The mother smiles back and sighs. She slips down the hall into the living room and sits on the couch with the baby, who bounces on her lap. He wants to play. She tickles him and he giggles.
She hears a soft pad, pad, padding of a sleepy boy's feet as he slowly enters the room-- a silhouette against the living room window.
"Mommy," he croaks.
"What, Calvin? Why are you awake? It's not morning yet."
"My bed woke me up."
"How did it do that?"
"I don't know, it just did. Just all of a sudden. It keeps happening," he explains. "Also my turtle light keeps waking me up."
"Well why did you turn your turtle light on?"
"I don't know. I guess it was too dark."
The little boy snuggles on the couch with his mom and baby brother for a few minutes until she gets up to go nurse the baby.
"I'm going back into my room to nurse Teddy now, Calvin. You need go back to bed too," she says calmly, as she rises and walks down the hall.
A quick intake of breath is followed by two other quick intakes.
"But, but, my bed is waking me up and the light is too bright," the young boy sputters. "Is it morning yet?"
"No, it's not. Turn off your turtle, Cal," she patiently explains again, "and it will be darker."
"But it's too dark when it's off and I can't sleep and my bed wakes me up." The whimpering gets louder.
"I have an idea," the mom says. "Keep the turtle light off and open the door to your room so it will be a little lighter but not too light."
"Ok," he whines painfully, into the night air of the house.
The little boy shuffles into his room and the mom goes to her room and sits down on the glider, having solved the problem. She closes her eyes, breathes a big, long sigh, and begins nursing. Sleep is close.
Shuffle, shuffle, pause. Shuffle, shuffle, pause. Boy feet on carpet.
The mom lifts her eyes to see her other boy in her face.
"Mmmmoooommmyyy?" Sputter, sputter. Whine. "Did you really say we have to sleep with the door all the way open?"
"No. No I did not say that, Clark." Frustration is setting in. Really? 4:00 am and all three boys are awake and two are arguing? The mom rolls her eyes in the dark room. Massages the back of her neck with her unoccupied hand. "If you want you can sleep with it open, but you don't have to."
Sniffle, sniffle. "Okay, Mommy," he quickly leaves, eager to tell his brother he was wrong.
The mom sighs again, stretches her legs all the way to her toes, and nuzzles Baby Teddy's warm little head.
Shuffle, shuffle, pause. The mom lifts her head and sees two swaying heads in the hallway on the other side of the crib. They appear to be deciding if bothering her again is worth it. She pretends to be asleep. They move away from the hall door. Then she hears their little breaths, their tiny whispers, as they look at her from out of the bathroom door this time. Still, she feigns sleep and hopes for the best. Their sounds disappear from the bathroom door and she thinks she has won.
The swaying, bobbing heads again silently appear on the other side of the crib. One boy enters the room. Immediately his is there, in her eyes.
Sniffle, sniffle. Louder this time. His heart is broken.
"Mommmmmm?" he moans.
"Did you really say to Clark that we have to sleep with the door all the way closed? Not even open a crack?" he holds his hands out, palms up, and slouches his shoulders to show his utter despair over the door's possible position. "When will it be morning?"
She wryly smiles to herself at the ridiculousness of the whole situation. Kisses Teddy on the head and lays him in his crib. She stretches to the tops of her fingertips.
"No, Cal. I said sleep with the door opened. Or closed, or partway open or partway closed. And no, it is not morning." She gains volume as she walks closer to their bedroom door. Becomes more and more irritated. She grabs the doorknob and illustrates her points, swinging the door open and closed in various stages-- various options of openness that they have. Maybe she does it a little wildly, a little desperately.
"Ok," they murmur, obediently filing into their bedroom, perhaps regretting their decision to rouse their mother again, but happy to know that they are not being forced to do something as abusive as sleep with their door a way contrary to the way they think it should be.
"I don't care how you do it, just go back to sleep," she loudly whispers.
Back in her room, she slips between her cool sheets and snuggles onto her pillow. Deep breath. Closes eyes. Peace.
Suddenly she opens her eyes with a jolt. Clark is standing there. It is light-- 6:30am.
"Mom, just so you know, Dad gave us milk to drink while he takes a shower," Clark explains, as if this makes any sense, as if the sleeping mother needs to know this nugget of information so badly that she needs to be wakened. She is speechless.
"Okay, bye Mom!" Clark is gone, yelling something about Spiderman's webs to Calvin.
The grumpy mother pulls the covers back to her chin.
The baby whimpers and moves in his crib. He squeals. Sunlight pokes her in her eyes through the slanted window blinds. Feet run up and down the hall.
It is morning.
|Bonus Teddy picture|