February 20, 2011
“MOMMY, DADDY, I NEED YOU!!” screams my four-year-old from his room upstairs, in his usual dramatic fashion. I sigh, because Oprah’s assistant is freaking out about how best to convince her boss that an hour about thirty-something virgins would interest America (this woman is amazing, I wish she’d live here and organize MY show), and I’m certain the next few minutes will be completely compelling. I also exhale dramatically because assisting my son will require me to actually put down Francis Ford Coppola’s vineyard coup AND rise from the couch, and neither action is particularly appealing to me by 9:00 PM.
I suck it up and quickly take the stairs two at a time, but not because my youngest is in distress (this is a nightly event now, he is most assuredly safe). No, I’m exercising more than I have in days because the thought of my youngest waking my oldest (and taking me away from reality television for an hour or two), is simply unacceptable. After all, I did six loads of laundry today AND kept both kids alive. Mommy deserves her rewards.
I enter Zach’s room with Jeff close behind me, and slide into the sanctuary of muted light and soft sounds emanating from his sleep machine and humidifier. Both boys have enough white noise in their rooms to block out the apocalypse, as Justin has a penchant for that 3:00 AM wake-up call, and sometimes Zachary doesn’t fall asleep until 10:00. One of my worst nightmares is that both will awaken simultaneously one evening while Jeff is away, and I’ll be forced to enact my own nocturnal version of Sophie’s Choice, which I’m certain will have me regretting not having had those tubes tied a little sooner. As a precaution to that event we’ve basically recreated the womb for our children, and this time, I expect them to stay in it.
Zachary spies us and shouts a gleeful “Mommy! Daddy!”, as Jeff quickly shuts the door behind him to drown out his enthusiastic greeting. We approach him with arms outstretched and quizzical looks on our faces, as it’s apparent he hasn’t pooped, which we’ve told him is really the only acceptable reason to call us back into his room after he’s been deposited in his crib. He looks at us with utter seriousness and says “The T-rex is back! He’s outside my window right now! SCRITCH-SCRATCH, SCRITCH-SCRATCH!”. He’s adapted and plagiarized that last little bit from his new favorite book We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, and while I’m impressed at his ability to convey the sounds of an extinct monolith ruining our outside paint job, I admit I’m a little annoyed. This is the fifth night in a row he’s been up late, which means the next morning his emotional state will undoubtedly resemble full-on menopause (and no, I’m not quite there yet).
Jeff bravely takes one for the team, and attempts to reason with him. “Zachy, remember, the dinosaurs have been gone for millions of years. There are no dinosaurs outside of your room.”
Zach regards my husband with a mixture of mild amusement and disdain and responds, “No Daddy, not the REAL T-Rex. It’s the pretend one.”
Right. Of course. How silly of us.
I lift Zachary out of the soft folds of his blanket and seat him onto my lap on his glider, and together we tell his daddy to “fix his crib”, until every blanket, sheet and pillow is aligned perfectly and conducive to what I hope will soon be my son’s slumber. I remind him that his parents would never let anything or anyone bad into the house, no ghosts, goblins or pre-historic giants, either real or imagined. When he tells me he heard a sound, I respond that he’s only heard the wind whipping the eaves of our house, and ask him if he remembers we’ve told him he’ll always be safe here with us. He smiles, and says he does.
He somehow smells slightly of cinnamon and nutmeg, although given my baking inadequacies, I’m not sure how. When Jeff completes his ministrations within the blankets I’m loathe to return him, even with Oprah Behind the Scenes on pause. Eventually the allure of cable wins, and I return him to his crib carefully, and watch as he snuggles into the blankets his father and I gently rearrange around his relaxed form. He asks for a “hand hug” from us both and we comply, then wish him a good night’s sleep as we exit his room.
And as Jeff returns to work and I head down the stairs for the mecca of brief escape, I remind myself, no matter what time of day they occur, to always savor the good fortune of my youngest’s repeated encounters with the land of the lost.