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Exercise Wednesday: Never wake a sleeping baby

March 7, 2012

My daughter is away at college, making the connections that will define the rest of her life. A few days ago, she was asleep in the crib in the second bedroom at our condo in Northern Virginia. I was standing at the foot of the crib, just watching her, which seemed like a neat Dad-ish thing to do.

She was about the most adorable thing I’d ever seen, and before I could stop myself, my arms invaded her cribspace and, careful to support her neck, picked her up.

What could go wrong, right? Cats go back to sleep if you start petting them. And she slept all the time anyway. She’d just sleep in my arms.

In parenting circles, we laugh modestly and call that a rookie mistake.

The mistake was multiplied by the fact that my daughter’s cries were known to drown out the sound of jets that passed overhead. On the weekly calls to my parents, my mom would ask how my daughter was doing.

“Holy geez, she cries sooooo loud.”

“She’s just a baby,” was the inevitable response. Which I appreciated, because sometimes I forgot.

Then they came down to see the baby and my daughter woke up and started crying, which prompted my mom to say, “She cries loud.”

If you can’t say something nice, just think it. I thought it.

Imagine that really loud cry at night.

Any parent knows that nighttime can be the worst with a baby. They don’t have the internal clock set yet, and they can sleep whenever they want. And their boss won’t mention in performance appraisals how they disrupted meetings by snoring.

And just when you get them sleeping through the night, they start teething and the cycle starts again.

You learn a lot about people when they’re severely sleep-deprived. Today you’ll learn about your character. They don’t have to be new parents, but they do have to be severely lacking in sleep and forced to perform anyway. What does it reveal about them? Are they cool and smooth or haggard and angry?

Time limit: 20 minutes

One Comment
  1. Chris Hamilton permalink
    March 7, 2012 6:13 am

    It was the first time I stayed over at Wendy’s house. It was a work night, but that was okay. I worked afternoon drive and I could get in whenever I wanted, as long as I wanted to be in before nine o’clock. We had a remote at a jewelry store that afternoon. With the money I was making, if I didn’t do the remote, I probably wouldn’t have been allowed in the store.

    Because it was Saturday, she had the day off. The clock said 9:17.

    “Think he’s asleep?”

    She smiled and nodded. She was wearing tight Levis and a low-cut red t-shirt with white stripes that showed just enough cleavage that I wanted to give her son Matt a double-dose of Benadryl from the time I arrived, right after my shift was done at seven. It had been the longest hour and a half of my life, and Matt, being the four-year-old he was, had worked on the same sentence from the second I walked in the door.

    She cocked an eyebrow and went into the bathroom, shutting the door behind her, which disappointed me. I wanted to see her undress.

    “He likes you, you know. You’re all he talked about this afternoon. When is Jim coming over? I can’t wait for Jim to get here. He thinks it’s cool that he can listen to you in the car. You’re a natural with kids.”

    There are times you want the woman you’re falling in love with to say you’re a natural with her son. While you’re waiting for her to get undressed is not one of them.

    She emerged wearing a speeding-ticket red silky bra and panty set that nearly made my eyes fall from my skull.

    “My sister’s right. You’re a mature, caring guy and you’re still like a twelve-year-old kid.”

    “You told her you were wearing that?” If you want information to spread like a cancer, telling Wendy’s sister Kelly is the best way to make it happen.

    “It’s hers. I don’t wear this stuff. I’m a respectable woman.”

    She walked over to me and hooked a finger inside my jeans. “And you’re still dressed.”

    I swallowed and she leaned in and kissed me and she smelled like flowers and fulfillment and a promise. She slid her left leg up my right thigh and then–

    And then–

    The crying started. Though Matt’s door and her locked bedroom door we could hear it as if it were inside our heads.

    “Mommeeeeeeee. I frew up!”

    Nothing wrecks a sheer body suit on the woman you’re about to make love to quicker than projectile vomitting from a four-year-old.

    Later, when we’d look back on it, Wendy said she was in love with me before that night. But when I stayed up with her and Matt until five-thirty, then went home to shower before work, she knew she could marry me. The six hours I spent at the jewelry store were the longest of my life. And as much as I wanted to try again that night, I fell asleep on her couch at six-thirty.

    In the long run, it was worth the effort.

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