My son was afflicted last night. “Sick” wouldn’t quite be the proper term. He read a book before bed that somehow got turned around in his little head into something sinister and scary and he couldn’t shake it. He came out twice after I put him to bed, the second time, crying, and I thought maybe he was really getting sick-sick, it’s so unusual for him. He slept like the worst kind of shit when he was an infant and toddler but since he’s become an older boy, his sleep has always been amazing, so this was unusual.
His tears are so rare now. “They were coming and everything was wrong!” he said, in his half-asleep, monsters-under-the-bed voice. “The book was scary!” I hugged and kissed him and told him I too had experienced many disturbed sleep nights because of a book, that it’s the mark of a good reader, and that I am here, your things are here, everything is fine and normal and safe and all is well.
He insisted on sleeping in my bed, and I got him set up in there. Then he called out again and again every 10 minutes or so, half-asleep, until I came in.
It was a fitful and horrible night. He muttered in his sleep. He was so hot I actually turned on the A/C, which I rarely do. Sweaty little bones, taking up 75% of the bed and leaving me with just a sliver on the left-hand side. He talked in his sleep, muttering and shaking. I took his temperature. It was normal.
It was just a really fucking bad night. And who hasn’t had those?
I called off work and called him out of camp, and we spent the day together, low-key. There was breakfast of bacon and fruit and cereal and toast, a MARATHON first game of adult Monopoly, complete with crying, crumpling of money, excessive gloating and insane strategy. There was laughter and dancing and lunch outside on the patio, where an ant got into my mac and cheese and the squirrel came up to see if anything extra was around. There was lounging and reading and light napping. I did some work for my day job that couldn’t wait, and hoped it was ok.
This evening, we went to the playground, his reward for winning the Monopoly game (kid has a future in banking or real estate, for sure). But no kids were there. Nobody. He couldn’t understand where all the kids were. A couple of girls, eventually, but no one else, and he won’t play with girls. Our complex is 99% Indian and I suggested to him that perhaps it was because Ramadan isn’t over yet, and everyone was staying inside until they could eat, and that took precedence over playground time. He was angry and didn’t understand and we tried to talk about it a little, but I am not a religious scholar and I don’t even know if that’s why. We played catch for a long time. We did some balance contests. I pushed him on the swing, then threw the ball to him while he was swinging as an added challenge. We laughed a lot and didn’t think about bills or how our clothes fit or whether or not the president is a lunatic, leading us into war.
I heard the rain bird and we talked about it. “MOM. IT’S SUNNY AND BEAUTIFUL AND HOT AND NICE AND I DON’T SEE THE BACKS OF THE LEAVES. I DON’T SMELL ANY RAIN AND THAT’S WRONG. IT’S NOT GOING TO RAIN.”
By the time we came home, he went out on the patio to clean his shoes, which were full of dirt and boy garbage, and he came back in and said, “Mom, it’s going to rain.” We challenged each other as to who is more crazy. He ripped off his shirt, I ripped off mine. He made to go outside, I made like I would follow him. He took off his shorts, I took off mine. He put a foot on the patio, and I acquiesced. He won. Just like earlier. The kid is better than me. This is how it’s supposed to be.
We checked the lottery numbers. We talked about what we would buy. A cat was one of the top things. A new car was another. Then there was a real house.
I brushed his teeth, read three chapters of a new book to him, and tucked him in. He will sleep well tonight.
And it did, just now. I went outside when I heard it and raised my arms up and let it wash all over me. It smelled so fucking good.