“NOOOOOO!!!” S’s voice rang out in the dark. I peeled one eye open and checked the clock. 2:37.
I pulled the pillow over my head and scrunched my eyes shut and hoped that this single yelp would be the end of it. G hadn’t even stirred. “NOOOO!!!” came the roar again.
I sighed and flipped toward the center of the bed and began an inventory. The 16 limbs of the other human and animal members of our family were all accounted for, and somehow, all seemed to be resting on top of me. Does anyone else believe that, like some mythological creature, their young children sprout extra arms, legs, and especially freezing-cold feet at night?
S’s eyes were closed and his little body fidgeted around, trying to find a comfortable new position in the grips of his dream. He pressed his bottom up into the air, twisted around using his head as a swivel point, and crashed back on to the bed. N, meanwhile, sighed and rolled over, and stuck his thumb in his mouth, sounding more like Maggie Simpson than a real, human child.
“G,” I hissed at my husband, using my own foot to reach around both children and nudge him in the calf. “G!” He opened one eye and we both looked despairingly at S. Just one stretch of more than four hours of sleep was all we wanted, two years into this little goober’s life. And now we were faced with this new challenge. Night terrors? Regular nightmares? We began our silent, telepathic negotiation.
“If you take care of him now, I’ll take care of him next time he wakes up.”
“I got him last time.”
“I’m just so tired. What are we going to do?”
I scowled and untangled my feet from the sheets and blankets that had worked their way around them in the churn of our bed. I pushed myself up on one elbow to behold our little night terrorist. Just then, the deafening yell again: “NOOOOOOO!!!”
And then, “MY DONUT!!!!!!”
The stuff of nightmares, indeed.