Wake-up call

So, at 4:30 a.m., there was Isaac, awake, crying, my responsibility. I staggered into his room, where some nursing happened, a blanket was retrieved, and he thunked back down to sleep in that solid way that babies do.

And then his snooze button went off. Cue repeat performance from Rachel (minus the nursing) nine minutes later. And nine minutes after that, I went in again, armed with a sippy cup. Nine minutes after that, after some philosophical frippery from Rachel about “acceptance,” I hauled Isaac out of bed and took him downstairs for some breakfast. “Yup,” he said, as I stuck some cold oatmeal in the microwave and then topped it with yogurt and applesauce. I just stared at him, not unkindly.

At 6 a.m., I took a fed, dry-bottomed baby back upstairs, handed him his blanket, and lay him down in his crib, where he promptly went to sleep. Not a nanosecond after my head hit my own pillow did Rhys wake up.

Next morning: same thing, except Rachel’s turn to get up. “But it’s too early,” she moaned from under the covers. I practically bit my lip to refrain from saying anything at all about acceptance, and after a long moment she hauled herself out of bed and went to get the baby.

We can speculate as to why — the cold that turned into an ear infection? Teething? A growth spurt? Possession by Satan? — but we’ll never know exactly what provoked Isaac into this spate of doggedly early mornings. All I can say is that by Saturday morning, after two weeks of this pattern and three days of solo parenting (and telling my wailing 16-month-old, in the wee hours of Friday morning, to do something that rhymes with “duck off”) I decided that enough was enough. He did not need to be awake that early, and he certainly was not benefiting from my deteriorating version of early-morning parenting. The kid woke up at 4:32 and proceeded to cry for precisely a full hour (seriously, he stopped at 5:32) before conking out until 8 a.m. Rhys crawled into bed with me at 6:21, and we cuddled and then got up and had breakfast and played in the basement until I heard the baby, happy as a clam, laughing in his bed. And then we went to the farmers’ market and then — yay! — to the airport to pick up Rachel.

The following morning, same thing.

The morning after that, he slept until a perfectly reasonable if slightly unpleasant 6:04. That was Monday. Yesterday, 6:21.

Today? 5 a.m. I sucked it up and we spent a perfectly lovely couple of hours playing together, him retrieving balls in the basement and playing patty-cake in my lap while I read the Sunday New York Times. “Are you my cuddly boy?” I whispered to him, not expecting an answer, as he put his arms around my neck and buried his face in my shoulder. “Yup,” he whispered back.

Tonight? I’m sleeping in the basement.