Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Night In The Life

For the last three days, I've been waiting on a stroke of genius for a blog. But, it was a rough week around here, and it’s hard to find anything humorous about being up all night with a vomiting kid. Hard, but not impossible. Because sometimes sleep deprivation makes the mundane hilarious. I’ve always been like this, which is why I laughed myself to sleep at most slumber parties growing up. And the other reason I found myself laughing in the middle of the night on Thursday, as I put my fourth load of biohazardous laundry into wash, is that I tend to laugh at inappropriate times. Like you’d be amazed at the funny things I’ve witnessed at funerals. Humor’s my coping mechanism. Everybody has one. Well, some of us have two. I have humor and chocolate, which are arguably better than crack and heroine. Is crack the same thing as heroine? I don’t even know, which my in-laws will be pleased to discover.

And it’s not that I look at trying times, like being awake all night with sick kids, in the glass is half full sort of way. Anyone who knows me knows I can’t even find the glass, so how would I know its level of fullness? But for some reason I found myself laughing about the fact that I was getting more laundry done in the middle of the night on Thursday than I had managed all week. Though I consistently find that I’m very productive between midnight and four. I’ve written some startling good chapters in my manuscripts during that time. And given my afterhours productivity and the fact that I’m rarely sleepy when I go to bed at night and always walking around the first half of the day with single-minded determination to get a nap, I think I might be nocturnal. Perhaps it’s just easier to stay focused without an army of mess makers hot on my heels asking for snacks, presenting criminal cases against their siblings, and pressuring me to get to the next daily task. I feel like saying, “Get back to me at two a.m. when I can think clearly”, but I’m afraid they’d take me up on my offer on the one night I’m actually sleeping soundly.

While I could solve the world’s energy crisis during the night, my husband, in contrast, has very little mental functioning between midnight and seven a.m. This was most clearly evident when our children were babies and he would occasionally try to lend a hand during the night. The first obstacle for my husband’s helpfulness is that he doesn’t hear anything. So if I want him to go check on a screaming kid, I have to punch him into consciousness. And then he can’t even seem to perform simple tasks or follow short instructions. One night, he graciously went downstairs and made me a bottle for one of the twins and brought it back up with no lid whatsoever, as if a three-week-old can just sip on it or something. And you’d be amazed at how many wrong ways there are to put on a diaper. He has also dosed the wrong children with Tylenol. Sleeping ones that were experiencing no fever or pain. And he has claimed to have checked on many a situation when indeed he hadn’t even left the bed. He wasn’t intentionally lying, he’s just that confused during the night.

There have been times when my husband is out of town and I find myself on edge with the normal sounds of our house; the ice maker working, the heat cutting off, a squirrel tree-hopping outside, etc. So, I’ll brandish a kitchen knife and search out closets for bad guys. I’ve never found any, though if you saw a few of my closets you’d understand that I could have overlooked them. But I’m not sure why I feel less secure when my husband is gone overnight, because in his middle-of-the-night confusion he’d be just as likely to arm the intruder and offer him a drink as he would be to protect us. I think the home security is best left to the G.I. Joes and pirates my son has securing the perimeter of the toy room.

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