Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Decant the Midnight Lizard

Digging through old posts from 2003 or 2004, I found this:

I plunge my face into my pillow, and feel the cool fabric leach the heat from my strained and weary eyes. Clouds of the Sandman’s magic dust puff up around me, and I am already sailing away into a dream and relaxing into my pose of repose, which is not unlike that of the Coyote upon reaching the canyon floor in a Roadrunner cartoon.

“Did you empty the boy?” The voice of my lovely bride jerks to a halt my descent into slumber, and my body goes rigid as I fight my way back into wakefulness. I should have known I was forgetting something.

The Boy is three, and took to toilet training like a donut to coffee. The only problem he has is remembering to get up in the night to avoid drowning. It has become my job to empty him once before going to bed, and again in the morning before I leave for work. I don’t mind, except that he is an extremely heavy sleeper, as the twinge in my back will attest. I’ve lobbied against the nightly “dink o’walla” with all my heart, but have been consistently out-voted. I seem to be the only one who has made a connection between the 2.5 ounces of water he drinks just before bed and the 2.5 gallon deluge that issues forth from him between 10pm and 4am.

So, it falls to me as the last one down and the first one up to enforce the head call. If I don’t do it, he will awaken, cold and sticky, forty minutes before my alarm is set to go off, and will climb into our bed with his soggy drawers. The changing of sheets and pajamas (his and ours, now), and the wailing and crying (his and ours), and the rinsing off of his soiled body and tucking him into his remade bed generally leaves me with about ten minutes to go until I have to get up again. Not enough time to get any more rest, and too much time to sit and dawdle over my cereal.

This night, I am especially tired. The cold I have been fighting has resorted to guerilla tactics for the last couple of weeks. Gone during the work week, but suddenly appearing on Friday night. Sometimes it’s in my sinuses, sometimes in my throat, sometimes in my eye. I think it has a secret base in my liver, so I’ve been using the Russian remedy: one shot of vodka with a dash of pepper.

I drag down the hall, and grope about in his bed, looking for him. He is a small boy, and the bed seems large in the dark; he could be anywhere! He isn’t. I am about to give in and turn on a light when I feel something underfoot. It IS a foot. It is attached to the wee lad, who has made a nest under his bed out of stuffed animals, dump trucks, and a few Justice League action figures. Batman, devotedly standing guard, dives cowl-first onto my foot as I lift the boy like a sack of rice, and with a stifled yelp, I begin hopping painfully toward the bathroom, all while trying to keep a good grip on him.

Not many people fully appreciate how floppy the body of a sleeping child can be until they try to pick one up in the middle of the night. This one sags in the middle as I prop his head on my shoulder and drape his legs over the elbow of the other arm. It isn’t a problem until he startles awake and begins to writhe like a cat in a bathtub. I manage to prevent him from slamming his head into the door frame by slamming my head into the door frame. He will have an interesting vocabulary by the time he begins school. The blast of cranial pain distracts from the Bat-marks in my foot, though, and that helps me maintain my balance.

“Sh-sh-shh!” I say, trying to sooth him back into immobility. He relaxes a little bit, then suddenly drops back to sleep. I complete the journey to the bathroom with only minor limping, and try to stand him up on the little stool next to the toilet. His legs won’t go down. They waver bonelessly. They curl up under him, and he tucks his chin to his chest and throws his arms up, giving me nothing to hold onto. He almost slips away, but I manage to grab him by the elbows and haul him back up.

Now he’s mad, and his legs shoot out, as he explodes with furious activity. He is a whirlwind, a wolverine cornered, a many-tentacled rage beast desperate to get away from me.

Then, with a plop, all action stops. Something awful has happened. We stand there in the darkness, until realization dawns. He tears the night apart with his shrill, angry scream: “It’s CO-O-O-OLD!!”

He has planted his left foot squarely into the toilet bowl.

Yanking his foot free, he begins kicking savagely, liberally spraying toilet water hither and yon. Fortunately, it didn’t get on his clothing. After a brief tussle, I wrestle him up onto the sink, and jam his foot under the tap. I wash him, pat him dry, and stand him up - finally - on his stool. There, he proceeds to make water for an eternity.

I have time to wash myself up, dry, mop up the floor, check the pipes for wear, tidy the tub toys, and re-grout the tile. When he is done, I gently carry him back to his room, and place him gently in his bed, where he is supposed to be. I kiss him gently on the forehead, and whisper, “Sweet Dreams.”

When he whispers it back to me, all is forgiven, and I limp gratefully back to my own, sweet, welcoming bed.

No comments: