Quarantine Report #2

I’ve started trying to converse with Alexa.

Daryl stays up late every night playing games with his friends on the ps4. I bounce back and forth between the advice to keep your kid on a schedule through this and the opposite advice to give your kid some space and back off. Since he stays up late playing games, I’ve been asking Alexa to open “rain on a tin roof” every night.

“Rain on a tin roof” is one of many sounds on a skill that makes white noise to block out distractions. I used to know others but I’ve forgotten them. I’ve also forgotten the name of the skill. I just know that I need to be sure to tell her to OPEN rain on a tin roof. Because if I mistakenly ask her to PLAY rain on a tin roof, I get some strange song.

Wait. I used to. But I just asked her to play rain on a tin roof so I could get the name of the song to share with you and she opened my forgotten-name skill and started up the rain noises. She must have learned over the past few years what I really want regardless of what I say before “rain on a tin roof.” Hmm.

So anyway. I ask her to open rain on a tin roof. She responses with a pleasant little bing sound and then a brief pause and then the rain starts pattering against the tin roof. It’s close to my head so it’s loud enough to drown out all the exclamations in the living room. There for awhile, she would lecture me on all these great new options available in the skill before giving me the rain. I was annoyed that she was talking so much as I tried to go to sleep. Maybe it’s the Pandemic because she’s since backed off and given me my space.

Last night, I felt like we both knew the routine well enough. I sighed as I snuggled into the bed and fluffed my pillow.

“Alexa,” I said, “you know what I want you to do.”

But, actually. She didn’t.

She started reading me the dictionary, I think. I was getting all sorts of definition and etymology and history. When she finished, I asked my husband what she had just done.

“I think she gave you the dictionary definition of ‘do’.”

“Alexa,” I said. “You aren’t very helpful.”

To this, she responded with a very angry sounding bong. It was nothing like the cheerful bing I get when I ask her to open rain on a tin roof. And then she gave me the silent treatment.

“I think you made her mad,” my husband said.

I gave in and delivered the best apology I could.

“Alexa,” I said, “please open rain on a tin roof.”

She binged happily and then the rain started.

I don’t know. Maybe I expected too much out of her. Her love language obviously revolves around being given plain instructions. I’ll keep that in mind, I guess.

Sleep, Glorious Sleep

It sucks getting old. Now everyone reading this who knows they are older than me are rolling their eyes and telling me I’m not old. But age is relative, right? I mean, I used to think people in their fifties were old and then my mom turned 50 and old people suddenly became in their sixties. And then the sixties no longer seemed old but seventies clearly were. Then I found out some of my favorite people at church were comfortably in their seventies and then my mom turned 70 and so now I guess you have to be in your eighties before you are old. To those of you in your eighties, I’m sorry. I do still think of you as old, but give me some time. I’ll come around.

And, yeah, clearly all of those people are older than someone moving into the late half of their forties and they probably are all having more age-related challenges than I am. But that doesn’t mean I’m not having any. I got together with some high school friends recently and when we found ourselves talking about our various maladies, we all remarked that it was an indicator of our advancing age.

There’s all sorts of signs: slow recovery time, reduced vision, thin skin, wrinkles, crackling joints, gray hairs, hairs on my chin. But the worst, by far, are my problems with sleep.

Back in the day, I slept on my stomach. I can still almost feel how wonderful that was, stretched out with my arms up around my head, bunching my pillow up around my face. Mmmmm… How I wish that still worked for me.

Pregnancy ruined that part of it. You can ask my husband, but I tried to keep sleeping on my stomach for a ridiculously long time. I piled pillows on the bed, making a big doughnut where my abdomen would go. I’d climb carefully on top and lower my belly into the doughnut. Of course, I needed pillows as tall as the doughnut from there to my head as well. It never worked for an entire night, but I sure tried for several of them.

Eventually I learned to sleep on my side, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.

Only, a few years ago, it became virtually a requirement that that side be my left side. My daughter and I got matching cartilage piercings in our right ears. Hers healed up in no time. Mine bothers me still. It’s got a weird overgrowth on the back and flairs up every once in a while. I’m too stubborn to give up on it, but it’s trained me to not try to sleep on that side.

So, there I’ve been, medicated and sleeping on my left side, which incidentally puts my back to my husband, when I start waking up in the night with numb fingers, hands, sometimes whole arms. For a while, I just shook the numb limb out and then tried to re-position myself. Eventually, I noticed it wasn’t always the arm I was laying on.

That’s when the side pillow got added. I’d lay down on my left side, rest my right arm on the pillow in front of me, and position my left arm carefully on the bed above that pillow and only slightly under my head pillow. Too far under the head pillow and the pressure from my head would numb that arm.

It didn’t eliminate the problem but did seem to reduce the frequency of occurrence. When I finally brought it up to my doctor, she said I had Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and I should wear braces on my wrists at night. I found some cool ones at Walgreen’s that are well-padded and have these little bean bag-like things that the palm of your hand rests on. They go up your hand quite a ways, discouraging you from clenching your fist at night.

Then the weighted blanket craze hit and I thought it might help me out so I added it to the mix. Now bedtime involved crawling under the weighted blanket, nestling a pillow in front of me, donning the wrist braces, and then, with limited use of my fingers, drawing the heavy blanket up to my chin, and carefully positioning my arms ~just so~.

It became too much. One day, I defiantly decided not to wear the wrist braces. I had come to hate them. One night every once in a while wouldn’t hurt. I crawled into bed like some kid that thinks they are getting away with stealing cookies from the cookie jar.

I woke up in the night with a numb forefinger. I massaged it and went back to sleep. I later woke up and more of my right hand was numb. I shook it out and admonished myself for not wearing the braces.

When I woke up the next morning, the hand was still tingling. I shook it some but basically tried to ignore it. It’d pass, I thought. Only, it didn’t.

I think it took almost a week before I stopped having trouble with my right hand, particularly the index finger. The first day after the sans-braces joy ride, my finger spent more time numb than not.

I learned my lesson. I simply can’t skip the braces. They are my new reality. That’s just the way it is. Now the weighted blanket? I soon decided that was more hassle than it was worth. But I am thinking of getting a second side pillow, or maybe one longer body pillow. I think having one between my legs would help prevent the occasional lower back pain. Did I mention I’m starting to feel old?

Nipple Ring

It had been a long day, as so many of them seem to be. I had happily crawled into bed at the end of it and snuggled into my pillows. Sleep was going well but I can only assume I was too close to a sleep stage transition when my husband suddenly asked, “Hello?”

My back was to him so I rolled just enough to look over my shoulder. I saw him pulling the phone from his face so I glanced at the screen: Daryl. He pulled the phone back to his ear, repeated his question, then looked at the screen again. The call had just ended.

“What’s going on?” I asked. Silly question since he obviously had gotten no answer, but it was two in the morning and I don’t function well at that hour.

“I don’t know. He didn’t say anything.”

“Is he home?”

“I don’t know but I’m going to go check now.”

Daryl had spent the evening watching the NBA All-Star basketball game over at his sister’s place. He wasn’t home by the time we went to bed. I started to wonder if he had fallen asleep there. Or had he been in a wreck on his way home?

My husband returned from his sojourn down the hall and told me that he was home and asleep in his bed. He shrugged it off and went back to sleep. I, as I am prone to do after such events, lay awake for hours waiting for sleep to reclaim me.

My alarm woke me soon after I fell back asleep. I dutifully got up and we went to the gym. The boys didn’t have school that day so we were letting them sleep. As I prepared to leave for work, I paused at Daryl’s door. I don’t know if it was honest curiosity or a desire to pay him back, but I went inside.

“Daryl,” I said, shaking him gently. “I’m going to work, honey. Where’s your phone?”

He had just been groggily stretching until I asked him about the phone. He pushed his torso up off the bed and looked around confused. As he stretched up higher and looked down, I saw it. His phone was face-up under his bare chest.

“That’s it! Daryl! You nipple-dialed your dad in the middle of the night! It woke both of us up! It took me hours to go back to sleep.”

He didn’t respond.

“The least you could do is say Sorrrryyy Mooooomm.” I said the “sorry mom” in an exaggerated put-out-teenager voice. He repeated the words in exactly the same tone. Maybe my version wasn’t so exaggerated after all.

“Thank you,” I said, picking up the phone, now at 11% battery because it had spent the night under his chest instead of on his charger. As I plugged it in for him, I confirmed what time he needed to be at Destination Imagination practice. And then I told his dad to make sure he was awake when the time came.

Because, you see, it’s always mom’s job to take care of the kids. Even if the kids wreck her sleep. You take care of them. And then you take care of yourself by increasing your caffeine intake for the day. And then you cross your fingers and say a little prayer before trying again for a good night’s sleep at the next opportunity.

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.

Cock-A-Doodle-Doo!!

Children make life hell sometimes. Don’t worry. I can love and cherish and be unable to imagine life without them and still feel this way. Because it’s true. Life might be less colorful but it’d be easier and more predictable and more… in control.

I have trouble with sleep. I’m always tired during the day, sometimes to the point of barely functioning. I don’t have any trouble falling asleep – it’s staying asleep for a reasonable amount of time that eludes me. I wake up several times during the night and I tend to wake up about 4:30 every morning – regardless of whether I went to bed at nine or midnight.

When I wake up during the night, I often have trouble falling back asleep. Especially if my brain starts spinning. For this reason, my doctor and I are trying medication for stress to see if it improves my sleep. My sleep situation is my top health priority right now.

What does that have to do with my children?

Let me tell you.

You expect sleepless nights and fatigue when they are infants. You know that for a period of time that is much longer than you think you can survive, they will wake you up every night and you will have to go feed them, rock them, hold them.

And then there’s the period after, when you get to sleep without disturbance most nights. But every once in awhile, more frequently than you’d like but not every night, a child comes into your room or screams from their bed. To tell you he needs to go potty. To tell you she had a bad dream. To try to wheedle her way into your bed for the rest of the night. To cry about the scary thunderstorm.

But eventually, he learns to just go to the potty without coming to tell you about it. She rolls over and goes back to sleep and waits until morning to tell you about the bad dream. She quits trying to sleep with you when it never works. He learns the thunderstorm won’t hurt him and begins to sleep through it.

By the time your youngest child is nearing seven years old, you no longer expect to be disturbed at night. You fool yourself into believing you have your sleep schedule under control. And then they deviously shatter your illusion. Ruthlessly. Mercilessly.

I went to bed early last night. I had sat on my bed from 8 until nearly 8:45, listening to said near seven year old read a Frog and Toad story to me. All 60+ pages of it, in careful, practiced monotone without consistent pausing at periods and with only a few word stumbles. He’s doing great and I’m very proud of him. It’s also kind of mind-numbing and lulling.

I was ready for bed after putting him to bed. So, at 9:15, I retired and fell quickly asleep. I was excited about the possibility of a good night’s sleep. That’s when it always happens. Sleep. Will. Be denied.

Around midnight, I was dragged from the deepest, darkest recesses of sleep by an electronic rooster crowing. I was confused and disoriented. As I slowly and painfully joined the world of the living, I tried to interpret what was happening. An alarm. So it must be time to wake up. But who’s alarm? And why isn’t my husband in bed if it’s morning?

Where is the alarm coming from? Not my room. Not the boy’s room – theirs is a much quieter beeping sound. Not the girl’s room. Hers is even quieter. And both are always quickly silenced. This damn rooster is still crowing. From the living room? Where?

No one seemed to be moving. Except the dog, whose claws I could hear clicking on the floor as she wondered about the rooster too. Then I heard movement and the rooster silenced. My husband? Did he set the alarm? Why?! And why the rooster? He knows I consider that particular alarm sound to be evil. And why the living room when he knows my sleep issues and he was sewing at the far other end of the house? Why?

My heart fell and I felt hopelessly sad and defeated. My dear friend sleep had left me for good. I wouldn’t be falling asleep anytime soon. I finally decided that I might as well go ask him what was going on.

He was, indeed, at the other end of the house, adjusting sleeve and pant lengths on band uniforms for the high school and listening to music that I couldn’t hear until I opened our bedroom door. He had his back to me as I approached. I began to think that maybe I had imagined the rooster. What would I do if he hadn’t heard it? What if I had advanced to waking myself up with imaginary sounds? What then?

Hesitantly I asked him, “Um. Did you hear… a rooster a few minutes ago?”

He burst out laughing and turned with a smile, “Did you like that?!”

“No,” I said without a trace of humor. “It woke me up. I was so deep asleep that I was confused and couldn’t figure out what was going on.”

“Well, I was confused too and I wasn’t asleep. Hal apparently set several alarms on his tablet.”

Boom. Just like that. A curious kid had accidentally or purposely set some alarms, not comprehending the full effect of his actions. Not understanding time, or A.M. vs. P.M. He was just playing. And now I was awake. Children make life hell sometimes.

“I turned them all off,” my husband continued. “He had another one set for one and another for four, I think.”

I must have looked defeated.

“Would you like a hug?” he asked.

I took the hug but didn’t cheer up.

“You know how much I hate that rooster,” I said.

“I know honey. I’m sorry.”

I returned to bed, where I composed this blog post a dozen times in my head before returning to the land of slumber. I slept through my husband coming to bed some time later, and only woke up once that I know of before my alarm went off. But I can tell that today will be an exceptionally tired day.

I was resting on my bed, talking to Jane, when the boys’ alarm went off. I raced into the room, flipped on the light, and as Daryl tried to return to his bed, I yelled, “Cock-a-doodle-doo, Hal Monkey!!”

He began to laugh.

I started with good humor but firmly told him how big of a problem it was. He knew the alarms were set and was proud of it, although I’m still assuming he didn’t understand when they’d go off.

I won’t be able to try going to bed early again until at least Sunday. Last night was to be a rare treat.

Rare treat, indeed.

Things That Go Bump In The Night

One recent night, after an extremely long day, I retired to bed very, very early. So early that my husband did not join me. At some point during my (apparently very deep) slumber, I heard a loud crash in our bathroom. I startled, then interpreted the noise as my husband dropping something – probably the Sonicare toothbrush, in our sink.

I was irritated that he was proving incapable of preparing for bed without disturbing me when the crash happened again, only louder and more sustained. I began to be concerned that he was going to break my beautiful vessel sink that he had made for me. I also began to worry that perhaps he was having some sort of medical problem making him unable to hold onto whatever it was he kept dropping.

Then he sat up from the bed next to me, removed his C-PAP, and headed to the bathroom to investigate. At that point, I was rather embarrassed that I was too out of it to notice that a 230+ pound man was sleeping next to me. And that I had shown an apparent complete lack of concern by not making my own movement toward the bathroom. Then I worried about what could possibly have made that noise.

The suction-cup mirror in the shower, it turns out. It slipped a couple of its cups, which caused first his heavy wood-handled shaving brush to fall. Then it slipped the remaining cups and clattered to the shower floor. Mystery solved and I eventually fell back asleep.

The next night, I was awakened around 4 or 5 in the morning by the sound of something rattling on the floor near my head. I tried to ignore it but it persisted. I turned on my phone and checked the area around the bed. Nothing. Eventually the noise moved to his side of the bed. He turned on his phone and checked the area around the bed. Nothing.

But before long, we knew. It simply had to be a mouse. Playing with something hard. The little knocking sounds of something bumping the wooden floor were eventually joined by mousy squeaking sounds. We couldn’t quiet it. We couldn’t scare it away. I lay awake hoping it didn’t decide to traverse the bed.

Two nights passed with a mousetrap on the floor at the head of the bed. At some point during that second night, the knocking began again. This time at the center of the head of the bed. The mouse was under the bed. This was not an easy problem to solve because our bed is not on feet. It’s a platform with drawers. The only way to see under it is to remove the mattress and peer through the slats.

I tried, like the previous time, to ignore it. But it was impossible. My husband was away from home, so I slapped his side of the bed. The loud thunk would pause the mouse for a few minutes, granting me a bit of reprieve. But it also disturbed the dog in the boys’ room next door, who began to bark at me.

So I got up and scooted the bed off the slats. That also concerned the dog, who barked some more warnings through the wall. Soon the whole household would be awake. I found what the mouse had been playing with. Well, not playing, really. Attempting to eat.

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I threw away the cough drop and hoped that the mouse, wherever it had scurried off to hide, would move on when it could no longer find its treasure. I scooted the bed back onto the slats and attempted to return to sleep. Some time later, I was again awakened by the sound of a cough drop being knocked repeatedly on the floor under the bed. I slapped the bed. The dog barked. The mouse squeaked. I lay awake, defeated.

That morning, I got my eleven year old son to help me completely remove the mattress from the slats and prop it up against the wall. I pulled all of the drawers out of the bed platform. I found no cough drop. I have no clue what the mouse was playing with that last time. Maybe she took it with her.

Meanwhile, the dog trotted down the hall toward my room, spied the looming form of the bed against the wall, and knew it was time to perform her duty as protector of the household. She crouched down, raised the hair along her spine, and growled menacingly. Eventually barking with all the ferocity a dangerous inanimate object deserves, disregarding the reassurance of the object of her protection (me) that all was ok.

I moved the mouse trap closer to the center of the bed. I returned the mattress. I consoled the dog. I got the kids out the door for school. I headed to work, already exhausted. I hope the mouse finds my peanut butter in the trap while I’m away. I’d hate to have to cede *my* bedroom to the invader and sleep on the couch.

Who Woke Whom?

I really miss my sleep.  I do.

I got to bed just a little bit late last night, around 11:00.  I was nicely and deeply asleep by 2:00.  I know this because I was rudely awakened by a door opening.  I glanced at our door and saw light shining through the cracks.  I lay quietly and waited for the child, whoever it was, to reveal his or her intention (and thus my obligation) by either flushing the toilet and returning to bed (I go back to sleep), making loud vomiting noises or calling out for help (I wake up my husband), or making no sounds at all (I have to get up and investigate).

The last is the worst and, of course, is what I got.  Nothing but silence and light shining under the door.  With a sigh as I felt the last vestige of heavy sleep leave my eyes, I threw off the covers and checked the time.  2:00.

As I opened our door, I was surprised to see that the lights in the hallway, boys’ bedroom, living room, and dining room were all on.  I stepped into the boys’ room and didn’t see Daryl.  I didn’t climb the bunk bed to see if Hal was buried among the stuffed animals.  I hurried down the hall, confused and agitated.

I rounded the corner to the kitchen (light also on) to find Daryl fully dressed for school, including shoes, and packing his lunch.

“What are you doing?!”  He jumped and turned his alarmed eyes my direction.  Before he could answer, I explained my question.  “It’s 2:00 in the morning!”

“Well I didn’t know that!” he exclaimed defensively.  “I woke up so I started getting ready.”

“That’s the beauty of an alarm clock,” I countered.  “You know it’s not time to get up until it goes off.”  Daryl had faithfully and successfully set and rose with his alarm clock every school day for the first couple weeks of school.  Since then, he’s been failing to set it and I’ve had to wake him each morning when I realize he’s not getting up.

I marched down the hall, gauging the state of wakefulness in my own body.  I knew it’d be a long while before I got back to sleep.  Just enough time to be deeply asleep again when my own alarm went off at 5:30.

I entered the boys’ room, tiptoed carefully through the hockey gear scattered over the floor to dry out, and quietly pulled the cord on the light to turn it back off.  Hopefully, Hal would sleep through the experience.  I stepped back out into the hallway and waited for Daryl, reminding him as he approached that he needed to turn off the lights behind him.

About then, a sleepy and angry voice called out from the top bunk.  “Mooo-ooom!  That woke me up!!”

“I’m sorry, Hal.  Your brother got up and turned on all the lights.”

“I didn’t wake up when Bubba turned on the light, Mommy.  I woke up just now because of you.”

This accusation was too much for me.  “Gee, I’m sorry, honey,” I said, not really caring if he was old enough to catch the sarcasm.  “I am so enjoying being awake at 2:00 in the morning.  I was just trying to turn the light back off so you guys could sleep.”

“Well you didn’t have to wake me up!”

I returned to bed and composed this blog post in my head until sleep finally reclaimed me.  People think the sleepless time is only while the children are infants.  At least infants have the decency to let you know that you will be sleepless every night.  You can, to some degree, plan for it.  The older, stealthier kids spring it on you when you least expect it.

Don’t Wake Mommy! Please!

As I have said before, I don’t like getting woken up in the middle of the night. It makes me grumpy. I spend an unfortunate amount of time being grumpy. Fortunately for my family, I’ve learned ways to present my grumpiness with a bit of lighthearted humor. To take the edge off.

Since we are both off work this week, my husband and I have been trying to finish the remodeling project we started nearly two years ago when we gutted our bedroom and bath of everything – including drywall and insulation. We had gotten the project to the point where we just needed flooring and baseboards in both rooms. Oh, and door frames. And new lighting and a heater in the bathroom. And a mirror. And the attic access needs to be trimmed. And it’d be nice to have handles and locks on the sliding doors. Oh, and I guess it’d be nice to have a vanity actually attached to the wall with a working sink on it. And then I decided that I really couldn’t live with the ugly metal window in the bathroom after all.

Needless to say, we’ve been working very hard and going to bed exhausted all week. I’m still usually a light sleeper, though. So, two nights ago, I was awakened suddenly by my boys’ bedroom door opening. I tensed and waited, praying that I’d hear the toilet lid go up rather than hear the shuffle of feet approaching my bed.

I didn’t hear the toilet lid. Or the shuffling feet. Or any other noises. I strained my ears to try to hear what was going on. I glanced out to the hallway to confirm their door was indeed open. I thought I heard whispering. Were they both up? What was going on? Then I heard the dog move, more excited whispering, verging on giggling, feet moving hurriedly back down the hall.

As I reached for my phone to see what time it was (12:30am), I knocked it off the table to the floor. A shadowy form paused at their bedroom door briefly before closing it. I laid there tense before realizing I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep soon. I got up and peeked through the crack by their door. (Another project, don’t ask). I saw and heard nothing. I took the opportunity to use the bathroom. I laid back down and wondered why I had had children as I waited impatiently for sleep to reclaim me.

The next day, I asked them why they had gotten up in the middle of the night.

“Oh,” said Daryl, semi-evasively, “I was just using the bathroom.”

“No you weren’t. I never heard you switch on the light. Never heard the toilet lid go up. Never heard it flush. I did, however, hear whispering, which means Hal was with you. What were you doing?”

“Bubba was going to go to the computer so we could play a game!” said Hal, with a fair amount of 5-year-old glee.

Daryl looked at me with a sheepish smile and tried to shake his head in a weak denial.

“But you didn’t. Why not?”

“Because Rose woke up and I was afraid she’d wake you up and get us in trouble, so we hurried back to bed.”

“Ok, Daryl,” I said, “I’m a ridiculously light sleeper. You can’t even open your door without waking me up. And I really don’t like being woken up. So please, please don’t leave your room unless it’s to go pee. Ok?”

The next night, Hal reminded me that sometimes I really am so tired that opening their door does not wake me. Those nights are the worst. Those are the nights where you are deep in a blissful slumber and are ever so slowly roused from that slumber by the realization that there is a child crawling on top of you. Those are the worst because you can still sense the wonderfulness of that sleep you were in and are coming to realize that it is all over and you will be forced awake.

“Hal, what are you doing?!”

“I need to go potty!”

“Well, then go potty!” This is where the grumpiness comes in. I was so dead to the world that he could have walked down to the hall bathroom, as he has done many times before, without waking me at all – for once. But this time, this time, he felt the need to come tell me first.

“I don’t want to walk down there.”

“Well, it’s either that or pee in my bed and I don’t want you doing that!” I threw off my covers and stalked down the hall, flipped on the light, and tried to stay in the hall in the vain hope that not exposing myself to the bright lights would make it easier to go back to sleep.

He entered the room, lifted the seat, and began to pee. I stood in the hallway thinking about little boys and how they often pee when not very awake. With a sigh, I turned to look in the bathroom. His stream was disturbingly horizontal. I wasn’t sure whether he was hitting the bowl or the underside of the raised seat.

Alarmed, and too tired to consider the consequences, I said, “Point it down!”

This startled him, causing him to jump and bump the toilet. The lid and seat, which need to be tightened, fell closed. He continued to pee.

“Stop! Stop! Wait!” I yelled as I rushed into the room to raise the seat. And then I headed to the kitchen for the cleaner and paper towels so I could clean the mess I had helped make while he returned to bed. When I crawled back into mine, beside the husband who never wakes, I tried not to think about how good my sleep had felt before it was interrupted or how tired I’d be come morning. I just tried to remember how much I really do love that kid.

Bee Nests, Dog Snores, and Busy Mice

My husband has been away for several days now. As a ridiculously light sleeper, I find his absence typically means more restful nights since there is not another body moving and breathing nearby.

On night number one, Hal entered my room after I had fallen asleep, announced that he was scared, and hurriedly climbed into bed. I listened for a possible explanation for his fear and settled on the rather loud wind blowing outside. I assured him that it wouldn’t bother him and held him tight for several minutes. Eventually, I gently told him it was time to return to bed.

NO!” His reply was so forceful that it surprised me. “There is a bee nest in my bed! I can’t go back in there!” He sounded panicked.

“Honey, there’s not a bee nest in your bed. You need to go back to your room to go to sleep.”

With a voice full of command, he insisted, “You go in there and look! There is a bee nest in my bed!”

“Ok. I’ll check your bed but you come with me.”

I carefully checked his bed and found only some broken rubber bands. When I said so, he gestured to another part of the bed and told me that he had been sleeping over there. I checked that part of the bed and confirmed that all that had been in his bed were the rubber bands. He then told me that he had one on his wrist that was not broken. It took me several tries to get my fingers under the too-tight rubber band on his wrist to break it lose.

A humorous aside: As I told this story to my husband on the phone the next day, the term “bee nest” came up repeatedly. Eventually, he interrupted me and asked, “Are you saying that he thought there was a penis in his bed? Hal has talked about the bee nest repeatedly and every time, I have to fight down the smile as I hear “penis”.

Back to my nights… Night number two found me lying awake, listening alternately to the dog snoring at the foot of the bed and Jane coughing across the hall. I eventually yelled at the dog to startle her awake but could not bring myself to disturb the sleeping girl.

You would think that I would be extremely tired moving into night number three and you would be right. If you think this would make me retire earlier, then you overestimate my good sense.

Around midnight, I lay in bed reading, knowing I should stop. Before I could act on that knowledge, I heard a rattling sound in the bathroom. I listened for a couple of minutes, trying to pretend I didn’t know what it was.

I’ll need to back up to that morning for you to understand the sound. I was sitting in the bathroom. Reading. (Give me a break… it’s a really good book!) Anyway, I was sitting there reading when something caught my eye. I looked up in time to see a small field mouse scurry under the door, across the floor, and behind a picture leaning against the shower, waiting to be hung on the wall.

When we installed the new shower, we had to install it on a raised platform to account for both the drain hole and the water pipes not being where they needed to be. The water pipes come out of the foundation and now angle across the floor under the shower. There are two notches cut in the platform supports for the pipes. One apparently had enough room for a mouse to pass through.

When I came home from church, I noticed a large nut sitting in front of that hole that I was fairly certain had not been there before. I strongly suspected that that nut was what was making the rattling noise at midnight. More specifically, it was likely the little mouse trying to move the nut under the platform.

I once had a rather traumatic experience of a mouse running across my head as I lay in my bed. With that memory, I knew I couldn’t sleep wondering about the mouse. As I switched on the light in the bathroom, I saw the nut rattle as the mouse disappeared under the platform.

With a sigh, I headed to the kitchen to prepare a mouse trap with some peanut butter. By the time I got back to the bathroom, the mouse had resumed its ridiculous attempts to pull the nut through the small hole. It darted back to safety and I carefully laid the trap nearby.

Back in bed, I thought about how loud a mouse trap is when it triggers and about how mice don’t always die immediately. I relived a moment nearly two decades earlier when I had listened to the squeak of a caught mouse and been unable to put it out of its misery. I also worried about the mouse ignoring the trap and coming into the bedroom. Sleep, I was sure, was not coming soon.

The rattling resumed shortly after I climbed back in bed. When it stopped, I got up and turned on the light. The nut, to my shock, was gone! I could believe that a squishy mouse could get through that hole but surely not that fat nut! Then I saw the trap. Licked clean of all its peanut butter.

This time, I used a toothpick to carefully push the peanut butter deep into the mechanism of the trap.

Eventually, I managed to drift off into a fitful sleep. I was dreaming about dealing with the mouse when a loud THWACK! woke me up. Confused, I lay awake wondering what had interrupted my slumber. It slowly dawned on me that the noise was most likely the trap. A quick check confirmed that I was right.

Finally, maybe I could sleep peacefully. As I lay there, waiting for sleep to return, the coughing started across the hall. And I was fairly sure I could hear faint snoring from the dog asleep on the couch. It was now well after 1:00. My alarm would go off in just over four and a half hours and I was nowhere near sleep. I was pretty sure the day would be a Mountain Dew day.

The Case of the Cursed Pajamas

I was in Hal’s room tonight as he got ready for bed. It is supposed to be very cold so I recommended he wear his fuzzy, footed monster pajamas. He agreed. Last night, he had worn a hand-me-down pair from his cousin but when I went in to wake him this morning, he had only been wearing his underwear.

“Where are your pajamas?” I had asked. “It’s way too cold to be sleeping without pajamas right now.”

He had shrugged me off, saying he felt like sleeping that way. All of my kids have strange notions on sleeping attire, so I thought nothing of it.

Back to this evening. As he struggled out of his shirt and I located his fuzzy, footed monster pajamas, he began to speak in a very nonchalant voice, as if what he had to say was of only middling importance to him.

“I am waiting for that pair of tajamas to dry. They have water on them.”

“What pair of pajamas? Why do they have water on them?”

I turned to where he pointed and saw the pajamas that he had been wearing the night before, tangled up with a pair of underwear, resting on a pile of books at the foot of his bed.

As I reached toward them, I could tell that they were not wet because of water.

“Hal! You peed in these pajamas! And you’ve let them sit on these books all day! Look,” I said as I lifted the top book, “This one is ruined. Come on, you need to carry these clothes. Let’s go.”

“NOOOOOoooo!!!! I don’t want to lose these tajamas! NOOOooo!” he cried.

Suddenly, everything fell into place. He thought we were headed to the trash can, not the washing machine. When he asked to wear the hand-me-downs the night before, I had said, jokingly, but maybe it was too subtle for a four year old, “Ok, but if you pee in them again, we are going to have to get rid of them because they are bad luck.”

I said that because he first wore them at Mimi’s house and had an accident that night. We washed them and as soon as they were folded, he wore them again. And peed in them again. Prior to last night, he had had two accidents in nearly a month and both times had been while wearing this cursed pair of hand-me-down pajamas.

Make that three accidents and no dry nights with these pajamas. I have become the opposite of a baseball player who refuses to change his “game winning” socks. I do not trust these pajamas. I think they may encounter an accident while they are in the washing machine. These things happen. Our washer has been known to eat things.