November 21, 2011
Third Time’s the Charm
It’s day two of NJEA, the break from school I detest the most all year. My revulsion for the mini-vacation is due in part to the fact that there are no holidays (read “gifts”) to distract me from the necessity of filling four consecutive days with my boys. I also find the conference irritating because everyone who lives in Jersey (or those not vacationing in Disney) will be attempting to kill time in all the museums and playgrounds I proprietarily haunt, and my eldest in particular is not fond of crowds. Last, I thumb my nose at NJEA because it’s in NOVEMBER for God’s sake, and all the good stuff around here is closed.
I’m sure the New Jersey Education Association is distraught by my rejection.
In an effort to fill some of Justin’s ninety-six hours off (but who’s counting), my mom and her partner have kindly offered to help by giving Justin another try at a sleepover. So, after a day of too many computer games and a gratuitous trip to the mall, we’re finally headed out on Route 195 to grandma’s house. This trip will herald our third attempt at having Justin sleep in a bed other than his own. The first try was aborted after the consumption of too much pizza, ending with a late-night return from grandma’s beach house to Justin’s primary residence, where he promptly fell into my arms and then slept for twelve hours straight. Our last unscheduled attempt coincided with Irene, an experience that made me (and every adult in the house) reconsider our positions on taking Valium as a snack food. I admit, as I head west, that this time I’m hoping for better.
If not, at least my mommy will have fed me.
I’m already feeling slightly victorious, because I let him watch me throw his sleeping bag, pillow, and fishy blanket into a large garbage bag, which he knows is a signal for “we’re out of here”. There were no protests, tantrums, or emptying of said garbage bag back onto his bed, so at this moment, things are looking up. He got even more excited when he saw the suitcase, sweetly helped me drag it to the car, a chorus of “eee” accompanying us the entire way. I told him several times we were sleeping at grandma’s and that I’d be with him the entire time, and I swear he understood the plan. There’s a certain grin he saves for my mother, and every time I mentioned her, it was on display.
Justin has always loved his women.
We arrive at my mother’s in record time (as I’ve mentioned there were no school busses to slow us down), and I have Justin help me lug our paraphernalia upstairs. I spread out his sleeping bag on the bed and show him where I’ll (in theory) be sleeping, and he flashes me that bright smile once again. I am certain he understands our agenda.
Whether he complies with it or not is another story entirely.
An hour later Justin engulfs his dinner, prompting me to wonder if I should perhaps be feeding this child more. After consuming his “grandma brownie” he bolts upstairs to bed, cradling the crib toy my mother used to cajole him to sleep when he stayed here as a baby. He is grinning ear-to-ear as he manipulates the dials, giving equal time to “Lullabye” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” respectively. My mom and I bathe and clothe him in his new pajamas, and he eagerly slides into his sleeping bag and bed, permits us to hug him goodnight, then blatantly turns away from us so we’ll leave. I’m already victorious that he hasn’t attempted to drag his linens, suitcase, and mother down the narrow stairways of my mother’s home a hundred times before slumber, but dawn is still eleven hours away, so I temper my triumph.
I’ve learned with this child, a lot can happen in eleven hours.
I sneak up a little bit after ten (which sadly, is past my bedtime these days), and manage to avoid all the creaky floorboards and slide into the daybed without incident. Eventually, exhaustion takes over. The two of us remain in slumber until about 1:30 AM, when I wake to the creepy feeling that somebody is watching me. I open my eyes warily to regard my son standing in the middle of the room just staring at me, and I see a huge smile stretch across his face as he realizes mommy is awake too. I sigh, drag my forty-four-year-old frame to the floor, and begin what I believe will be the first of many attempts to get my boy back to bed.
Damned if he doesn’t snuggle in on the first try.
We’re not entirely home-free the rest of the night, as this scenario is repeated again at 3:30, this time with a gentle push on my shoulder that makes me grateful I’ve been on that blood pressure medication for a while. He returns to bed easily this time too, although his mother has a tougher time returning to unconsciousness. I seem to make it back there just in time for dawn and my son to come calling, which prompts me to shuffle into the big bed with him, and beg him to give mommy just a few more minutes before we head downstairs. Justin relents, even remains still for a quarter hour, enough time for me to remember my name, and return to our world. It’s morning, and except for scaring a few more years off my life a couple of times (perhaps longevity is overrated anyway), Justin made it through the night. Which means Disney, here we (eventually) come.
Next year, I might even like NJEA.