An answer to the voice at the door, as if there would be some question in my mind about who was outside my bedroom at 2 A.M.

“I wanna’ sweep wiff you.”

Of course I open the door. It’s not locked, but the handle is a bit stiff, too stiff for little hands, especially in the middle of the night.

He knows where to go, to Mommy’s side of the bed and he’s soon nestled in with his little head squeezed next to hers on the pillow.

I’m not always happy to see my children at this hour. I don’t like being wakened up, I never have. My mother tells me that even as an infant if I was awakened from sleep I would begin to howl with righteous, red-faced indignation.

I don’t howl anymore, but it’s sometimes hard to hide my irritation. Lisa knows that I am not always reasonable with children in the middle of the night.

“Look kiddo, I don’t care if you don’t feel good. If you think you’re going to be ill then you’d better high tail it to the toilet because I really don’t feel like cleaning up your bed at this hour.”

“John, she’s only two. Give her a break!”

I don’t like children in my bed either. It’s habit forming. Some parents can’t seem to say no and end up with school aged children in their beds nightly, serving as tiny escorts to their parent’s intimacies.

But, no one sleeps well with a child squirming around. Heads are bumped, feet find chins and arms flop over necks. It’s like a wrestling match.

Johnny had been to see us the night before with the fairly legitimate claim of being cold. He’d somehow managed to toss the blankets in his own bed, but a little snuggle with Mommy usually does the trick.

Last night he arrived with the same complaint, only this time he was warm as toast.

“I’m coad,” he says with his tiny voice.

“Johnny, you’re not cold. Your feet are warm.”

“I’m coad.”

“John, he’s cold.”

“No, he’s not.”

I’m hoping his mother has the sense to turn him away, but he’s soon happily ensconced.

Lisa wakes up at this point and makes the obligatory trip to the toilet.

“Where’s mommy going?” he asks.

“She’s going to get a big stick to beat you and make you get out of our bed.”

“No, she’s not.”

“Yes, she is.”

He starts crying.

“O.K., she’s not going to get a big stick. She’s just going to the potty.”

He knows to stay on her side of the bed.

It’s useless to argue with them. They are just as irrational and confused as I am. Besides, it’s easier to put them back to their bed after they’ve fallen asleep with us. When they’re asleep they’re more pliable and frankly seem just as glad as I am to return to their beds alone. But it means I have to keep a vigil, waiting for the deep breathing of their R.E.M. sleep.

Last night’s vigil was shorter than most, about 30 minutes. And, John was quite agreeable to return to his own bed.

I love him, but I hope he doesn’t get “coad” tonight.

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