Encompassed by the sound of water lapping against a shore, the presence of rich humidity magnifying the aroma of damp earth, and thick vegetation, I was once again in a state of euphoria. From somewhere far away the trill of a whip-poor-will carried through the forest.
Mere words lacked the ability to describe the display of lights that cascaded across the sky, bringing animation to a once desolate canvass. Five distinct heavenly bodies continued to flash like shooting stars; their brilliance becoming more apparent with each passing moment. Deep greens, pale yellows, and lastly, bright reds continued to command attention with their vibrant colors.
A whisper so quiet at first I had to strain to hear suddenly permeated through the night. Struggling to find clarity in the utterance, I fought to pull myself away from the peaceful, trance-like state where my deeply submerged mind had discovered utter tranquility.
Wait a minute. I knew that voice…
“Release the Kraken…!” (cue crashing waves, high-pitched growls; and an oddly disproportioned, ginormous, plastic monster)
It’s 1:57 am. No lake. No floating in euphoria.
Zeus returns again, this time his stern proclamation reverberating loudly in my brain.
“Release the Kraken…!”
The blazing lights on the baby monitor glaring into my eyes at full force now, I stumble out of bed and try to mentally prepare myself for an event that has become increasingly common in the last few weeks.
“Maaamaaaaa…daaadyyyyy…!” (cue thrashing covers, uncontrollable laughter; and a precious towheaded, blue-eyed, giggly goofball)
At this point I’d love to insert the analogy of Perseus swooping in astride Pegasus to save Andromeda but unfortunately, it’s more like Andromeda releasing the Kraken and preparing for self-inflicted punishment.
I can see through role reversal mom is definitely the unsung hero; now begins the WWF portion of this little rascal’s night in a magical arena called “Dad and Mom’s bed.” Who is not excited about that approximately four hours before some of us even consider waking up?
First plan of action upon wedging himself between his parents? An immediate flat-handed paddle drive into dad’s face, followed by a forehead rake, and subsequent nose jabs. Not really sure who the culprit was that taught him those moves but I have a hankering that wrestle mania with the “Dadinator” has cultivated some serious karate skills.
Thankfully, we are seasoned veterans now and have consumed every “child sleep” manual on the market that outlines how to handle this type of situation.
- Rule #1 of nighttime parenting: Don’t make eye contact. Institute The Ignore.
(Maybe that was #2. There could have possibly been something about patting a child’s back until they fall asleep again…in their own bed.)
Rolling away from him now, we resume military style sleeping positions but it isn’t long before I can feel small portions of my hair slowly being pulled away…from…my head…Ouch!
(insert low-key, nice voice)
“Oh, that hurts mommy. Don’t pull her hair. Owie.”
Reeling my long locks back in I realize rule #1 (or possibly #2) has already been broken. Flipping over I find myself gazing into a smile so big I can see white Chiclet teeth even in our pitch black room. At this point it’s really hard not to engage with that sweet face.
But no, I refuse to be sucked into his schemes! I immediately reinstitute The Ignore to the sounds of Will’s muffled laughter.
Tiny fingers pat my arm as a precious voice begins to hum himself to sleep. (Alright! He’s utilizing “self-soothing” behaviors. I’m pretty sure I read about that somewhere.) A minute or two passes and I find myself starting to relax again.
“Ow!” Apparently I was hearing a pregame song he uses to pump himself up with. The eye gouge and kidney smash had just been used simultaneously on Will. It was my turn to chuckle. Of course, I was certain the routine would find him on my side again in a few minutes.
(insert a more serious voice now)
“Okay, if you can’t go night-night, you will have to go back into your bed.”
- Rule #3: Never threaten with discipline you won’t actually enforce. (Well, there goes another one.)
Who writes these books anyway?
- Rule #4: Scrap previous instructions and use your own.
Starting over now…
- Rule #1: Turn on the lights and give the child a drink while attempting to make them spew water out in laughter.
- Rule #2: Administer belly blows and kisses, while asking “What are you doing in my bed again?” in a silly voice.
- Rule#3: Turn off the light and share a few personal renditions of Twinkle-Twinkle, This Old Man, and possibly some Phillip Phillips or Jason Mraz.
- Rule #4: Catch and tickle any limbs caught in the act of kidney shots or tonsil checks.
- Rule #5: Blame your significant other for these nightly charades…it’s just so fun to wind them up sometimes!
- Rule #6: Soak up the fierce neck hugs and wet smooches.
- Rule #7: Spend time listening to their sweet little voices speaking on a stage of their own; sheltered in the darkness from the chaos of the day.
- Rule #8: Make a “toddler sandwich” with your spouse, holding hands while you both thank God for the blessing of family.
- Rule #9: After the first hour and a half, try and remember that they grow up fast and won’t be around to hang out in dad and mom’s bed anymore.
(Did I mention rule #9 is sometimes hard to reflect on at 3:30 am?)
And then lastly…
- Rule #10: Strap child to chest (think rollercoaster) with one arm while the other parent strokes their forehead, occasionally deflecting bicycle kicks until snoring sounds can be heard.