It's 4:30 in the morning when my son, Josh, who is 7, joins us in the bed. He's followed by his sister, 4-year-old Sophia, who does not have far to travel, because her current place of slumber is the floor next to our bed. With cat, remote control and husband already in residence, the bed has started to feel like one of those cars crammed full of clowns that you see at the circus. The standard policy we go by, lately, is no visitors in bed before the break of dawn, but little people have their ways. They know instinctively that if they team up they can get you with a one-two punch and commandeer your pillows while you are still comatose.
You are too tired to lay down the law, and so you talk yourself into believing something that you know to be untrue: It's no big deal, you've got three hours left to sleep, a pillow isn't really necessary and the small knee pressed into your kidney doesn't bother you at all. You press up closer to your sleeping spouse, who's in the quadrant of the bed zoned for "no children," and attempt to re-enter the dream you'd left running on automatic pilot. But while you paused to tend to your intrusive life, you find the dream has moved on without you and is nowhere to be found. Can't blame it, can you? You're the one who let yourself be lured away by your two dear "realities," and now it's probably off seeking out some other, less distracted sleepyhead to lodge inside of and be loyal to.
A new dream comes along, and you submerge to meet it, when you hear your son, whose nose is clogged, trying loudly to breathe. You press a tissue to his nose and order him to blow. Now, he's back happily and soundlessly asleep and you are wide awake. It's 5:30 a.m., but not to worry. If you lie there quietly, by 7:30, when it's time to rise and shine, you will be groggy and ready for sleep again.
Amanda Geffner is a writer and psychotherapist living in Weston. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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