Hey, you know what I really like doing? I really like arguing with a three-year-old at 3 AM — and again at 5:30 AM — about the fact that I am not his other mother. “I know that you want Rachel,” I say to him sweetly. “I know that. But right now all you have is me.” I agree; Rachel is better than me and absolutely, I should go to jail because I am not her. But first, I will lie quietly beside him as he glowers and then, grudgingly, sighs and snuggles up to me. Because I like to.
I also really like being elbowed in the clavicle by the nearly-six-year-old in my bed at 4 AM. It’s also fun to be poked in the ribs by the same child, particularly after I have just managed to fall back asleep after the clavicle incident. “Since I’m awake,” I tell him, “why don’t we really have some fun and you stick your icy little feet into the backs of my thighs?” And he obliges. Because he is a sweetheart.
It is nice, I find, to be punched in the head by a sleeping three-year-old after coaxing him back to sleep after convincing him that he is, indeed, doing me a favour by letting me sleep in his bed rather than in, say, my own. While it is slightly more peaceful to lie with his head shoved into my armpit as he lies perpendicular to me across the bed, I find the random punches invigorating and good training for the unexpected, well, punches, that life throws at you.
I like it when I wake up in the night and Rachel is not there and I get to play the “Where’s Rachel?” guessing game in my head. Is she cuddling the six-year-old or the three-year-old? Or maybe it’s just a simple case of insomnia and she decided to try the couch? Or maybe she just had to pee. Sometimes, when she accidentally wakes me up after trying to return to her own bed after cuddling one child or another, I get to ask her where she’s been, and she tells me. And it’s nice to be able to have these intimate conversations in the middle of the night.
If I’m really lucky, Rachel bounces out of our bed to deal with Isaac just as Rowan bounces into it. I find that symmetry appealing, although I’m still working with Rowan on the concept of symmetry as it relates to you stay on your half of the bed and I stay on mine. It is sweet, really, how he either spreadeagles over three quarters of the queen-sized surface of the mattress or insists on glomming his chilly little body directly onto mine — stomach to stomach, there is no spooning for this kid, that would be too symmetrical — in order to suck all my warmth. Because conventions like symmetry are boring! They are as boring as, say, going to bed without wearing sequined princess slippers and shoving two security blankets down the front of your dinosaur-footed pajamas in order to achieve that coveted Tweedledum look must be to Isaac. As boring as it must be to sleep through an entire night without waking up to ask one of your mothers, at 5 AM, “When I go to school tomorrow, will you pick me up outside?”
“Yes, honey, I would be glad to pick you up outside.”
But not as glad as I am to be woken up in the morning by… Darth Vader!
It’s a banner night when I get to sleep in — okay, when I get to lie down in —four different beds, all in the same night. I like the interesting dreams that occur between each move, but I also really like those times when I lie awake and feel sorry for all the boring, boring, symmetrical, sleeping people. I like that Rowan has enjoyed the Lemony Snickett books thus far so much that his dreams are now so vivid and intense that the only thing that allows him to go and stay asleep is the presence of a warm, maternal, body next to his. “It’s like you’re my bodyguard,” he told me last night at 9:24 PM. “Or maybe my dream guard.” And who wouldn’t like to be a dream guard?
“Do you think dream catchers work?” he asked me.
“Yes, I think they do,” I said. “I think that they make people feel better because then they don’t have to worry about the bad dreams and they can just dream about all the good things that there are, like Halloween and climbing trees and gymnastics and Bakugans and swinging hand-over-hand on the monkey bars at school and popcorn day and reading good books and brothers and mommies and the cats and chicken and rice—”
“Chicken and rice?” he said. “Absolutely not chicken and rice. Chicken and rice is absolutely out of the question.”
“Well,” I said, “you really liked eating it for dinner tonight.”
“But I don’t want to dream about it,” he said. “You don’t dream about food.”
Maybe you don’t, I thought.
“Tell me more nice things to dream about,” he said. “Tell me about things I like.”