How Did You Know?

Returned home late from a meeting last night and the kids were already in bed. But just barely, so I headed in to say goodnight.

First stop was the boys’ room. As the door opened, I saw a flurry of movement in the top bunk that ended with Hal flopping onto his belly with his elbows out and his hands resting under his chin as he looked at me.

“Goodnight Hal Monkey Bear,” I said as I climbed enough rungs of the ladder to reach him. Instead of going straight for the hug, which he wasn’t leaning over for anyway, I stuck my hand under his pillow.

He made a desperate noise and attempted to press his full seven year old weight onto the pillow. He deflated a bit when I extracted the 3DS.

“You know this is supposed to be in the living room on the charging desk,” I said before turning to his brother, who freely sat up from his bed for a hug.

Outside of their room, I turned into their sister’s. It was dark and there was no glow of a phone. Yet as I approached her bed to say goodnight, I could see that she was still holding it.

“You need to go to sleep, sweetheart. Put your phone away.”

“I know. I usually slide it up here,” she said, moving her phone up to the corner of the bed and sounding disoriented. “I don’t know why I hadn’t yet. I was falling asleep.”

“If you continue to have fatigue problems, we may get you an alarm clock and have you put your phone out on the charging desk so you don’t talk to people too late into the night.”

“I don’t! I’m always too tired.”

About then, her phone buzzed.

“Sounds like you are actively in a conversation right now.”

“Well, I was but then I fell asleep.”

Mmm-hmmm…

I then returned to the living room, where you might think this story ends. But you’d be wrong. I have three children, remember?

“I think we need to check for electronics more closely,” I said to my husband as I showed him the 3DS.

“Is Daryl’s iPod over on the desk?” he asked.

“I see his red case and it looks like something is in it.”

“He got a new case. You better go check.”

So I walked over to the desk where they are supposed to store and charge their electronics and picked up the case. Turning it over, I saw that there was indeed an iPod in it. But it seemed strange that he hadn’t plugged it in to charge. The boy may be irresponsible and forgetful about many things but charging his iPod isn’t one of them. Even more baffling was that it wouldn’t even power on.

I mentioned these discoveries to my husband who then asked to see it. After a brief examination, he confirmed my suspicions. “Go get his iPod from him.”

So I re-entered the boys’ room. Daryl’s hand slid slowly toward his hip and he looked up at me calmly.

I held out my hand. “Give me your iPod.”

The calm facade broke, replaced with an embarrassed and surprised smile. As he handed it to me, he asked, “How did you know?!”

Oh, son… How did we know? Maybe it was the old case the day you got a new one. Or the fact that it didn’t power on. And wasn’t plugged in. And didn’t actually fit the case since it was an even older iPod that you stashed in your old case as a decoy. Or maybe it’s your age. And the evidence of your siblings.

We were young once too. And devious as well. We might not have had portable electronics, but that doesn’t mean we never tried to pull one over on our parents. You are getting better at it. Your deceit is well thought out and your tells are subtle and easy to miss. But this night, at least, we weren’t too tired to catch them.

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Wake Up, Brother!

Hal (and his bedding) are very fortunate that he is so adept at leaning over the side of the bed when he throws up.

Can’t say the same for his older brother and the dog who sleep in the perpendicular bottom bunk beneath him.

What I can say is that, considering it can’t be fun to wake up to being splattered by falling vomit, Daryl handles the situation with considerable patience and good grace. Especially since it has now happened twice.

The dog does well too. Even goes right to work trying to help clean it all up. Although she needed some help with the stuff on the top of her head, and she seemed a bit concerned that she might be in trouble.

And for anyone wondering why we have a sick Kindergartener sleeping in a top bunk… he’s not sick. At least, not with a stomach virus. He has a lot of mucous build up. He gets to coughing and gags on the mucous and then… wake up, brother! The boys chose the sleeping arrangements and both are happy. Although Daryl might start reconsidering the merits of the top bunk.

Sleeping Alone

Daryl spent the night at a friend’s house last night. He’s done this before but it’s been awhile. Hal doesn’t like it. Not one bit. He’s very accustomed to having his brother in the room with him. He said he was scared when we put him to bed and we told him he’d be fine.

Sometime after my husband left to pick up Jane from her outing with a friend, I thought I heard Hal’s door open. I gazed down the hall but saw nothing. I turned back to the computer. Time passed. Then my chair moved ever so slightly. Hal was hiding behind my chair.

“I’m scared Mommy. I don’t like Bubba being gone.”

I had him lay on the guest bed nearby until I finished the night’s blog post. Then I carried him back to his room.

“You know,” I said, as I tucked him back in, “when Bubba was about your age…” I was about to tell him that his Bubba had slept in a room by himself, but then it dawned on me that five years ago, I was about to give birth to Hal. We had already moved Jane into Daryl’s room so we could turn her room into Hal’s nursery. But, wait! That means…

“You know what, Hal?”

“What?”

“Did you know you slept in a room by yourself when you were a little baby?”

“No.”

“Yep. You slept in a room by yourself until you were about 2 or 3 years old. Sissy’s room used to be yours.”

He got a big smile on his face. “I did?”

“Yep. So, see? You’ve done it before. You are just scared now because you aren’t used to it. But it’ll be ok. I wouldn’t put a baby in a room by himself if it wasn’t safe, would I? And I wouldn’t do it to you now. You’ll be fine. I promise. Just remember when you get scared that you’ve done it before, even if you don’t remember. Ok?”

He snuggled into his blanket like he was willing to give it a shot, but then, speaking very slowly as if working it out in his head, he said, “Well, Mommy, maybe when I was two I was really brave and now that I’m four, I’m not very brave at all.”

“Oh, sweetheart. You are just as brave now as you were then. You just didn’t know anything different then. I bet if we grew another bedroom on this house and moved you into your own room, you’d stop being scared in no time. You just aren’t used to it, that’s all.”

With that, I gave him a hug and left him to face the monstrous silence of an empty room. Alone.

What Beneath A Pillow Lurks

Underneath a boy’s pillow is a mysterious and dangerous place that only the bravest of parents should dare to venture.

I have found quite the variety of items under pillows over the years. The most common, by far, has been candy. There is a bear pillow that is still waiting for me to figure out how to unstick the blue candy cane that is matted into its fur after Hal tired of sucking on the candy during the night and tucked it under his pillow for safe keeping.

When Daryl was very young, I came to tuck him in and he said, “You can give me a hug, but don’t put your hands under my pillow.” That, obviously, caused me to do just that, revealing his candy stash he planned to consume that night.

The Nintendo DS has been a recent sub-pillow dweller, although we appear to have resolved that issue. I have extracted quite a few books, toys, flashlights, even pen and paper.

All the candy and toys in the world couldn’t have prepared me for last night, however. My natural hugging of a tucked-in child causes my hand to sweep under the pillow. As I hugged Hal, I thrust my right hand under the pillow and was stabbed!

“Ow! What in the world??!!”

I pulled one of Daryl’s jumbo thumb tacks out from under the pillow. “You have got to be kidding me! What were you thinking, Hal? Do you have any idea how much this would have hurt if you had stabbed yourself in the night? Look! I’m bleeding. This was a terrible idea!”

He looked suitably abashed and gave me extra-tight squeeze hugs in an attempt to make amends. I never expected to injure myself tucking my children into bed. I think I might start wearing heavy duty rubber gloves and searching the bed before I go in for the hug.

My Acorn!

“I’m do-o-o-o-o-o-ne!” The little voice called out from the bathroom.

“I’ll be right there, Hal.”

“I’m do-o-o-o-o-o-ne!”

I hurried into the bathroom in time to see Hal hopping off the toilet, waiting for me to help him wipe. Before I got to him, he began to whimper.

“What’s wrong, dear?”

“My acorn!” He pointed. “It’s in there.”

I looked where he was pointing. It took me a minute to realize that one of the little balls in the toilet was not actually waste product, but an acorn, partially wrapped by a wet piece of toilet paper.

“How did it end up in there?”

“It was there.” He pointed to the toilet seat. “And then it fell in there.”

“Well, of course it did. The seat slopes in. It’s gone now, honey.”

“NOO!!! I want my acorn!”

“Honey, look. It’s got toilet paper stuck to it. And it’s… it’s sitting in pee-pee. Let’s just let it flush down the toilet.” It is ok to flush the acorn, right? I don’t have to fish it out. The drain is big enough and the septic can handle it… surely it can…

“No! I don’t want to flush it. I want my acorn!”

“Well, ok, but you are going to have to pick it up. I’m not going to.” With that, I used the piece of toilet paper still in my hand to push the acorn away from the paper it was touching. “There you go, pick it up.”

His little hand hesitated. I had caused a swirl in the water. While the acorn was free, it was floating around the bowl and rapidly approaching the paper again.

“You better hurry if you want it.”

After another false start, he finally darted in and grabbed it. Then I lifted him onto the step stool, and turned on the water. “Now you need to wash your hands. And the acorn.”

“My little acorn…” he crooned affectionately.

I fear I’m doomed to encounter this acorn again. Probably on the floor. While barefoot. In the dark. I will yell and curse and pick it up. Then I’ll throw it outside. It won’t be missed. He will have forgotten about it by morning. But tonight. Tonight, it was important to save. Bedtime sanity depended on it.