It’s 3 a.m. Anyone know where Dad is sleeping?February 28, 2013
Truth be told, I’m the kind of guy who sleeps around.
It’s the kids’ fault. Blame my wife, too. Heck, even the dog has contributed to my troublesome mode of mobile slumber. Until they existed simultaneously, I was a one-bed man with the occasional fling in a bed down the hall. Now, there are four women in my life, and I spend the night with each of them at least once a week.
Calm down, calm down. No sinning here. Think sweet, not slimy. My carousel of ladies consists of my wife and three daughters, a quartet of cute that knows, in times of trouble, any of them can find me on the couch.
There are four beds in our home. One-half of the mattress in the master bedroom is reserved for me, and I slept there last night. First time in at least a week. There are a gaggle of doctors — Oz, Phil, Ruth, Gupta, maybe even Pepper — who would suggest that this pattern signifies trouble for my marriage or, at the least, I am haphazardly sabotaging all chance for romance by failing to cuddle. But this night-time nomad gig isn’t the product of resentment. Actually, quite the opposite. I’m just a wanted man.
Mostly, it’s about security.
We have a 15-month-old who prefers to be rocked to sleep while mom watches TV shows such as “Vampire Diaries.” I remain puzzled why anyone is drawn to science-fiction romance that involves fangs, but we’ll leave that alone. The 15-month-old is easily distracted, so I shepherd the 6-year-old and her 4-year-old sister to their room and threaten to beat them with spatulas should they so much as crack open the door. We are never sure how long it will take the baby to fall asleep, so we take with us many books, magazines, an iPad, a cellphone, bottled water, a compass and nonperishable canned goods.
It never goes well.
Ever handcuff a 4-year-old to a dresser? Me neither, but sooner or later I’ll go there.
One of the kids always attempts to flee, setting off a wicked chain reaction of sobbing (kids) and slamming (all of us) and swearing (me) that ends with the sound of pitter-patter. It’s the baby scrambling around the living room, giggling and screeching like she just ate a bag of jumbo marshmallows. When this happens, I am held accountable.
One solution is for me to soothe a 6-year-old prone to bad dreams while the 4-year-old with an aversion to sleeping alone climbs into bed with mom. This is troubling for several reasons, not the least of which is that mom is sometimes watching “Vampire Diaries.”
By the time the 6-year-old snores, the 1-year-old stirs. I move from the top bunk in one bedroom to the floor nextdoor. All the baby wants is somebody to lie next to her, so I crank up the space heater, snag a cover and pile some pillows. We’re not sure if the kid knows exactly who is lying beside her, but I am most often sent on this mission because I could sleep in the trunk of a car if necessary. My wife recently suggested we assemble pillows and covers to mimic the shape of a human body — think “Shawshank Redemption” or the Anglin brothers’ escape from Alcatraz — and trick our baby into thinking one of us is always sleeping beside her. Taking cues from inmates is a little creepy, but that would at least afford me the chance to fight for my rightful place in bed, which at the moment remains on a time-share with the 4-year-old.
Most nights, I scoop her out of my side of the bed and shuttle her to her bunk, she awakens and begs me to lie with her. She calls me her “snuggle buddy,” and I know that in a few years, she’ll think dad is a mean, bald loser on this Earth only to prevent her from being “snuggle buddies” with some teenage boy dad has never met. So I snuggle up. One night, three beds.
The rest of the time, I scoop her out of my side of the bed, she mumbles something about dad being really mean and darts back across the house to sleep next to mom.
Like a puppy who’s been nudged away from under the dinner table, I settle into the couch. It’d be nice to sleep in the same bed as my wife. But the couch isn’t all that bad. The cushions, conformed to my body, know me. I can’t fall asleep in silence, so I flip on the TV to something besides “Vampire Diaries.” I pull up the familiar cover and make room for the dog, who sniffs me for signs of a late-night snack before returning to his bed. Which is actually my bed. Which is not really my bed at all.
Because the 1-year-old is up again. And I’ve got more sleeping around to do.
Jason Recker is the enterprise editor at The Herald. In college, he slept with a stuffed teddy bear named “Blueberry.” His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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