He’s in my bed again, that cuddly, snuggly boy. Cuddly, snuggly boys take up all the room. They grab the blankets, they kick, and they sometimes laugh in the middle of the night–great big cackly laughs like they’ve found perfect happiness. I’d find perfect happiness, too. If I could sleep.
“Mommy, why do you and Daddy get to share a bed and I have to sleep way over there?” Excellent question.
“Well, if we had our own rooms, we’d need a bigger house. That’s more expensive. This way, we can save money for toys.” We looked at lots of houses before we found this one. He knows. He nods.
“Mommy,” he asked last night, “Why do I get to cuddle with you in this house, but you always put me back to bed in the last house?” Also a good question. An important one. He wants to know why he’s getting away with something. This could open the floodgates–he’ll want to get away with everything. I answer carefully.
The last house was 816 square feet under the airport. I read the parenting sites that said “Don’t get into bad habits now, they’ll follow you for a lifetime.” Some already have. I let him watch shows so I can escape into my mom world for a moment. And I don’t take him to the park and zoo every day like the good moms do. But I couldn’t imagine a 20-year old kid still in bed with his parents. I’d better stop this now. In the other house I returned him to his own bed, like the books say. The bed was five or six feet away behind the shared wall. I could put him back in my sleep.
“What if I get scared?” he’d ask.
“Of what?” The only thing to be scared of, from my perspective, was not being able to sell that house. We’d been trying to move but got stuck. For some reason people don’t like planes using their roof as a tarmac. “Don’t worry,” I said. “You have the Secret Knock.” I knocked three times on our shared wall. “If I hear the secret knock, I’ll come to you.” And I did. Even when he abused it. It was like rubbing a lamp waiting for the genie. Knock. Knock. Knock. Poof. Mom. Sometimes a kid just wants to see if the person he loves will come even in the middle of the night–a test run in case a monster does pop out from the closet. When I was tempted to be annoyed, I looked at the relief on the little face, gave it a kiss, and went back to bed. I wonder how many kids don’t have mom-genies? I’ve taught quite a few of them.
I answer his question. “Why do you get to cuddle in this house? Because your room is far away, and I don’t want to put you back to bed. I won’t get to sleep.” I was planning ahead for his teens by assigning him the far room–loud friends and bad music. “Our secret knock won’t work, will it? We need a secret phone call.” He giggles, then laughs. He’s laughing with me now, because I confessed that sometimes parents are lazy–a fact he inherently knows and already uses to his advantage, so I tell him cuddling’s a treat because he worked hard on his spelling. A reward so he thinks I have control over a battle I’ve clearly lost.
I don’t remember him hopping into bed last night. Sometimes I hear him, step, step, step…jump. I get bashed in the face with Fluffy, the Sheep. Today, I wake up and notice there’s a little arm around me and I am toasty warm. I can’t see him, but I think he’s smiling. I sneak out from under the arm. I get up. If he wakes, he’ll say, “Mommy, don’t go work. Come back after you put a log on the fire.” I can’t lie anymore, I’m not coming back. He knows. I give him a kiss. I make my coffee and sit down to write. I’ve let him cuddle, snuggle, laugh and take up my space for one more night.
I wonder how many “one more nights” I have left. Because every single mom I know tells me to appreciate it, that they blinked their eyes, and the boys are gone. Poof. They look a little sad. I hope I’m not sad. I peek in on him now. He’s still there. Taking my space, dreaming of dinosaurs, no doubt, while I dream he will become something great.
Two big thank yous: Thank you to John Saddington who dug me out of my scrambled blog as I tried to self-host, move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, and generally try to take this blog much more seriously. John blogs here. He’s an inspirational entrepreneur, writer, and dad, who always tells me “Don’t be such a pussy,” when I wreck things he has to fix. I’m not sure if he’s telling me to take chances or if he just likes cats. But I’m learning fast. Mostly because I keep breaking stuff.
And thank you in advance to Sarah Steenland, who basically agreed that my blog design is seriously flawed. She said it needs to be “Steenified,” which is Australian for “You’re a sucky artist and I’m going to fix that for you.” I’m so grateful to have people in my life who fix everything that breaks and sucks. Everything from my artwork, to writing to fashion. I feel like I have as shot at improving as a human being. Don’t miss Sarah’s cartoons, because she is really…really funny.
[Image credit: Michelle Burnore at F2Fmi]