I can't sleep," came the wine from the child who quietly appeared next to me. It never ceased to amaze me how the child who couldn't walk from his bedroom to the bathroom without the entire house knowing exactly where he was could appear out of nowhere when he was supposed to be in bed.
"Well, it's hard to fall asleep standing in the middle of the family room. Let's go back upstairs," I replied.
He tried to wiggle out of going back upstairs. "But I need a drink," he protested, as I nudged him to the stairs.
"No drinks. You already had some water when I put you to bed the first time. Let's go, kiddo." I nudged a little harder until he started moving.
"But I forgot to do my homework."
"I guess you'll have to get up extra early tomorrow!" I replied. "It's bedtime. Maybe tomorrow you'll remember to do your homework before bedtime."
He finally headed toward the stairs and he slowly climbed to the top, trying to think of some other reason he could stay up. Nothing must have come to mind because he entered the bedroom and reluctantly got into bed.
"Will you read me a story?" he asked.
"Nope," I replied. "You've already had a story."
"Will you tuck me in again?"
"Yes. Get into bed."
I pulled the covers up to his chin and tucked the covers in all around his body, just like he liked. He's the one kid who never really outgrew swaddling.
"I'm going to sit in the hallway -- so go to sleep!"
With a quick peck on his head, I left the room to sit in the corner of the hallway in our broken IKEA chair. The legs had fallen off the chair awhile ago but the kids couldn't part with it so it became the hallway reading chair and mom's "waiting until they fall asleep" chair. I entered my password on my phone but before I could even figure out what to mindlessly scroll through, there were noises coming from his room.
"Quiet," I said from the hallway.
"But I can't sleep!"
"You haven't really tried. Now go to sleep."
I opened up Facebook and saw that little Tommy had lost his first tooth, Judy's daughter had made some atrocious art piece for her mother, someone wanted to sell me a curler that "really" worked on all hair types and someone else had found Jesus.
The door opened.
"My throat hurts. I need a drink," he squeeked.
Extra points for theatrics.
"Fine. A quick drink and then back to bed."
One shot glass of water later he was back in bed. This time, I opened my scriptures, thanks to my friend who found Jesus on Facebook. Three versus later, I hear scratching on the wall.
"What are you doing now?" I ask.
The scratching stops immediately.
"Go to sleep," I command
"But I can't," he wines.
"Count to 5,000 and then we'll talk." I think I might have him with this one so I start reading my scriptures again until I hear his voice whispering out from between the door crack.
"I counted to five thousand."
I'm a little surprised by the voice because I really thought this time it might work but I quickly gather my wits and tell him, "No you haven't. Now back into bed and really count to 5,000."
I don't know why I think it will work this time but I actually get to read all of the chapter in my scriptures before I hear his little voice echoing out the door.
"Pikachu, we have got to go to sleep. Stop playing with me. Now I'm going to put you at the end of the bed along with Teddy, Mr. Snake, George, Bunny…"
By the time I get out of the chair and into the room, he's listed off a dozen more names and all along the bottom of his bed are his assortment of stuffed animals like sentinels for bedtime or, as the case seems to be, playtime.
"Now stay here guys since it's time for bed. I have to sleep, don't I Mom?" He turns his cute little face up to me and smiles.
"Yes, it most definitely is sleeping time." I turn to his stuffed sentinels and address the troops. "If I hear one more word out of any of you," I point my finger at each of the animals and finish with my son, keeping my eyes trained on him, "then all of your friends will have to spend the night in the hall."
He nods his head at me, not daring to say a word. I tuck him in one more time and head out to the broken IKEA chair. I think this time, I've got him. I have to admit, I thought that by the time he reached the ripe old age of 19, this stage would be over by now, but perhaps it will be by 20. Hope springs eternal!
Dedicated to my oldest who headed back to college this week. Written while sitting in my broken IKEA chair and "helping" my two youngest go to sleep, the youngest of whom outlasted me. I gave up at 11:30!