3:30 a.m. The dog is barking! Wake up!
3:31 a.m. Where? What? Who? Charlie’s woofing like mad at nothing. You whisper, “Shh, Charlie. Shh. Shh. SHHH,” even though this has never, in your five years with Charlie, stopped him from barking. If anything, he seems to consider it some form of cheerleading. But you have to do something, so there it is.
3:33 a.m. Charlie gets himself back under the covers, turns a few times, tucks his cold front paws between your butt-cheeks, and instantly begins snoring. You move the paws out of the way, but you know they’ll be back in a minute. They always come back.
3:35 a.m. You’re still awake.
3:40 a.m. You’re still awake.
3:47 a.m. Is your husband awake? Nope. Did he sleep through the barking? It seems he did.
3:50 a.m. You stare at your husband for a while. He’s still sleeping. You hate him just a little.
4:00 a.m. Don’t be like that. Someday he’ll be gone. Or… you’ll be gone.
4:00:03 a.m. Don’t start thinking about death, you idiot.
4:01 a.m. Death. Cold, inevitable death. Soon—and forever.
4:03 a.m. Well, not soon soon. Sort of soon. Soon in relation to the universe.
4:04 a.m. Really soon in relation to the universe. Jeez--! Holy--!
4:05 a.m. Calm down. Longevity runs in the family. Think of your great-aunt, who lived to be almost 100. Decide you’re going to be just like her, in your Sutton Place apartment, walking to work every day in your little suit and pillbox hat.
4:07 a.m. Of course, you’ll also be alone, getting shorter and shorter as your spine slowly crumbles. You’ll write peculiar letters to your relatives accusing them of not feeding you at last year’s Thanksgiving. “The plates kept getting passed over my head,” you’ll write, in your spidery old-person handwriting. “I thought it bad-mannered to say anything, so I made do with some crackers.”
4:10 a.m. But who’s to say you’d live that long? It would be a privilege to live long enough to get that dotty.
4:11 a.m. Who’s to say you’ll live past tomorrow?
4:15 a.m. Don’t be ridiculous. You’ll live a long, healthy life. Go to sleep.
4:16 a.m. But people do get killed. There are random accidents. It could happen. To you.
4:17 a.m. Take a few minutes to consider, in agonizing detail, the horrific events that could lead to your sudden, unexpected demise.
4:25 a.m. Wow, that was a little too vivid.
4:26 a.m. Feel a little queasy. Are you coming down with something?
4:27 a.m. Decide that your ability to imagine these events so very well can mean only one thing: you’re psychic.
4:28 a.m. Wow. Psychic.
4:29 a.m. Good going, psychic lady. You just premonitioned…premonized…premonitated…foresaw your own doom, and now Henry’s going to grow up without a mother, and he’s going to forget all about you.
4:30 a.m. No! No! AIIIIEEE--
4:35 a.m. –EEEAIIIIIIIGH---
4:45 a.m. hurk hurk hurk hurk
4:50 a.m. sniffle. Sob. Sniffle. Snork. AIIIEEE—
5:00 a.m. This is getting serious, now. You need to sleep. You like to sleep. Find a way to calm down.
5:04 a.m. Okay. Okay. Listen. Decide that your ability to imagine some horrific death only means that you have an active imagination. (Probably.) You can imagine all kinds of things that will never come to pass.
5:05 a.m. Like a foot growing out of the side of Henry’s head.
5:07 a.m. Poor little foot-head! How could those kids taunt him like that?
5:10 a.m. Would it move? Would he put a hat on it, or a sock? Or a sock hat? Or a sock with a hat on it but how could a sock wear a hat and what about when he graduates how will the mortarboard fit and hi there lil foot-head want to try out for soccer zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Entries in sleep (6)
3:30 a.m. The dog is barking! Wake up!
Our friends’ baby Tallulah is now eight weeks old. She’s kicking her parents’ asses with her newborn I’m-a-baby-so-I’ll-think-I’ll-cry-instead-of-sleep attitude, but—and this is important—she’s not mine, so I feel pretty relaxed about it. I recently said to them, “Boy, these first few weeks sure have gone by quickly!” and they were like, hmm, it’s been crawling by for us, what with the sleep deprivation and the, you know, crying. And then I mentioned how Henry sleeps 13 hours a night, and takes a two-hour nap every day, and how that day we all overslept because we forgot to set the alarm and Henry didn’t wake up until 10 a.m., and, well, it turns out that wasn’t something they wanted to hear. New parents are so sensitive.
Actually, I think our tales of Henry’s record-breaking sleep habits cheer them up, because I’m sure that they, like the we of 16 months ago, don’t really believe that Tallulah will ever, ever sleep through the night. Luckily we are here to give hope to the hopeless, perspective to the not-perspective-having.
Until Henry was around 4 months old, Scott and I were so sleep-deprived, we were probably clinically insane. Henry would sleep for, say, 45 minutes at a time, then wake up and remain awake--awake and pissed off--for hours. I would tell people that I now understood child abuse, then I would shriek “JUST KIDDING!” and laugh maniacally until they backed away. I spent all day graphing charts of Henry’s sleep and then staring at the paper as if a 3-D solution would eventually wobble into view.
We were tired.
Turns out that not sleeping makes you stupid, too. Scott and I fought all the time, but we were such morons that it was hard to take our conflicts seriously. We would have the kind of asinine, confused fights that you might have with someone if you’ve both just been awakened in the middle of the night and you’re trying to communicate some kind of dream-agenda, although you can no longer recall what you’ve said as soon as you’ve said it. Our fights went a little like this:
Setting: The living room. 7 p.m. I’m staring longingly into an empty brownie pan. Husband is glaring at the TV. Henry has just fallen asleep in his car seat.
Me: Did you do that thing? The, um…
Me: You know…(sigh).
Him: Wha--? How would I know? Wha--?
Me [glaring]: The thing! The—Jesus, never mind.
Him: What are you saying?
Me: Shut UP.
Him: Don't tell me to--God!
Me [sobbing]: Shut up shut up! Shut up!
Henry wakes up.
Me: [incomprehensible syllables amid sobs]
Him: [kicking coffee table]
And now! Lookit lookit! Henry sleeps, and our fights have become more sophisticated, with completed thoughts and proper nouns! There are several ways that we could probably take credit for this, but in the end, he just needed to get a little bigger. I guess it happens that way for everyone, or else some of us would be 34 and still need to be rocked and swaddled every night. And that would be creepy.
On a somewhat related note, I love this quote (From a non-news story on President Taft, of all people: “Taft's Nodding Off Attributed to Illness”)—the article notes that President Taft “was the most obviously sleepy person to ever inhabit the White House.” Apparently other presidents, like, say, Rutherford B. Hayes,* were drowsier, but better able to hide it.
*I love Rutherford B. Hayes.