The Casa del Hogaboom sleeping situation is pretty funny. We four have basically slept together for years (although not so much when the kids were babies). Now at ages 5 and 7 the children are the size of yearling horses. We’re like that family in the original Willy Wonka film, only in a way that doesn’t suck my soul out and make me so depressed I want to die.
We have two rooms in the house we’re in now. The bedroom is inhabited by a queen size mattress so there’s even less room than previous; at the foot of this bed we’ve installed a thin, rock-hard Ikea mattress fitted on a box spring broken by the many, many times children have jumped on it. At night if Ralph starts falling asleep before the rest of us, he usually mans up and crashes his body down on the sub-mattress, and it’s a nightly lottery if a child will join him (one usually does) or if the kids stay with me. Now, if the kids fall asleep before Ralph, we get them out of the bed by carrying, rolling, pushing or shoving them down to the floor bed and then Ralph and I get the bed alone. But we never, ever wake up alone. I think I could put Nels wrapped in a straight jacket and buckled into a trunk and throw him at the bottom of the Chehalis (and I’ve actually considered this on days he’s driving me crazy) and by 3 AM he’d be back in bed with us. He never cries out for either of us, he just finds us.
Like last night: the diabolical trio of my mother and my two children sprung a sleepover idea on me entirely, and after bath and tooth-brushing the kids absolutely sped upstairs without a backward look as if they’ve never loved me, to join her for Peter Pan and pretzel snacks. Ralph and I did a bit more work (housework for him, Sophie’s dress sewing for me) before hitting bed with a bottle of wine and a video of The Killer Shrews (that’s some good cinema!).
But at about 11:30 I hear the pocket doors to the kitchen rumble a bit. I know it’s Nels, because Nels – for all his complete independence and kinetic disobedience during the day – loves to sleep with one of us. He is quite politic as I see him clamber up to the top of the bed, the light from the film glowing silver on his hair: “I thought maybe you needed a snuggle,” he says. And isn’t he just so amazingly appealing to me, in his little white undershirt and boxer shorts, and his hair smells so good and his arms feel amazing, wrapping around me. And I wish you could hear the way he says “snuggle”. The first two letters of the word are positively holding one another, and his arms are wrapped around the word itself as if he invented it. And he does get into bed and snuggle me, and soon everyone is asleep but me. And I watch my silly sci-fi movie a bit longer then I take one for the team, and move down to the mattress (which doesn’t feel very uncomfortable when you’re tired and have half a bottle of wine in your belly). And soon I wake up just briefly because Nels has found me once again. “I want to be with you, Mama.”
And in the bed he stays even after all the rest of us are up and about, and at 10:45 AM he wakes and immediately says, “I want to eat breakfast with Grandma.” Because he knows what he likes.