One of the joys of traveling with your children is not sharing a hotel room. I am used to sleeping close to my children. We have a small house. None of them sleep more than thirty feet from me. I sleep with my door open. I can hear Sam breathing. I know what my children sleep like. But, if we are in a hotel room, each of them, in turn, will sit bolt upright in bed and scream. Scream, like their hair is on fire. Then, flop back on the pillow, and resume sleep. I, thanks to the rapid rise in blood pressure, will be awake for at least the next hour. This is not good sleep.
During our trip to Nevada this summer, to visit my father and grandmother, we were blessed with a two bedroom, two bathroom suite. (Thank you, Daddy!) It was bigger than our first apartment. There was one room with two beds for the kids, and one room with a huge bed for us. We were so excited. But sleep was not to be had.
For reasons that are boring and so shall be skipped, Hubband put the kids to bed that night, while I was out. (Again, the details aren't important. Don't be so nosy.)
When I returned to the room at 10:30, I was met at the door by a wonderful husband, but a frazzled father. "Cate won't stay in the bed," were the first words out of his mouth. "I just can't keep her in the bed." It was true. She was running around like a crazy person. Or, an over-tired two year old. Same thing, really.
"Okay, well. We'll have to put her in our bed until she's asleep. Then we can put her back in with Jonah." My plan sounded reasonable.
"Well, no," he said. "I have to sleep in with Jonah. He is having bad dreams."
"I told you not to let him watch When Gators Attack on the swap people channel." It is so easy to be the superior parent when you are out all night.
"Oh, he was fine with the alligators. It was the live-action Scooby Doo movie that scared him."
We paused to take in the absurdity of the situation. Ferrel two year-old. Six year-year old afraid of a crime-solving dog. Four year-old presumed sleeping. Got it. I quickly developed a new plan.
"Okay, so you sleep in the bed with Jonah until he falls asleep. I will get Cate to sleep in our bed. Then you and she can swap."
"Well, maybe." He sounded doubtful. There were other issues. "Sam fell asleep crying because you weren't here to sleep with him." When we travel, Sam and I usually share a bed, so that the kids are split up. This has become, second only to make-your-own-waffles, his favorite part of traveling. It added a wrinkle to my plan, but Sam was asleep, and if he stayed that way, it might just work.
Hubband and Jonah were quickly asleep in one of the beds in the kids room. Sam was asleep in the other. That left me in the master bedroom with my demon possessed daughter.
I finally got Cate to sleep, but could not do the same for myself. Perhaps it was the human pinwheel with whom I was sharing the bed. After about three hours of jostling, kicking, rolling, and two screaming sit-ups, I left. I went into the living room. Yes, there was a living room. I hung out there for awhile, reading. When I finally went back in, Cate, all three feet of her, was taking up the entire king size bed. I know, it sounds impossible, but I saw it with my own eyes. There must be some sort of pre-school physics that allows her to do this.
I was about to scoop Cate up and move her onto her reasonable share on the bed, trying not to wake her of course, when Sam came in. "Mommy," he whimpered. "I want you to sleep with me."
It was three in the morning. I had not slept. I had no fight left in me. I went into the double room and got in bed with Sam. I did not sleep well, but I slept. A little.
That is how a two year-old girl got an entire master suite all to herself, while the rest of us were billeted as usual -- four to a room, two to a bed. And, though the boys had us up by six, Princess Catherine slept until 9:30.
When we went to Washington, later in the summer, we had our usual accommodations -- the in-laws' attic. It is a nice attic. Large and nicely finished, two windows at each end, plenty of beds and room to play. The kids even have shelves of toys. A short adult can only stand up in the middle of the room, but other than that it is quite cozy.
On one of our last night's there, Cate was suffering from a fever. She sat up every fifteen minutes or so, moaning. A sort of rhythmic chant of discomfort, until one of us went over, laid her back down, and told her it was going to be okay. I don't think she was every really awake, but we certainly were. Every fifteen minutes. I know because I looked at the clock. Hubband and I took unofficial shifts. He would get up with her for an hour or so, then I would. But neither of us slept, even when "off duty." It went on like this until four in the morning.
Then it got worse.
Cate started screaming. Like I have never heard. I thought she must be hurt. I lept out of bed and went to her as quickly as I could with no head clearance. Then I saw it. Well, not it, but its shadow, cast by the glow of the night light. It was a bat. I'm sure it was a small bat, but its shadow looked like that of an albatross. Have I mentioned that I am deathly afraid of bats? Deathly. Afraid.
I let out my own primal scream. At which point Hubband ordered me to quit screaming. He was trying to find out what was going on, and I was not helping. So, I quit screaming. I fell to the floor at the foot of our bed, cowering under a bit of quilt.
"It's a bat. There's a bat in here," I whimpered. My heart still races at the memory.
Cate continued screaming, "Flies. Flies." She had not learned the word "bat" yet, but she would.
Finally, Hubband managed to pass her to me, staying as low as possible. She and I escaped to a lower floor. Hubband stayed behind to conquer the bat, enlisting the help of his father, a broom, and a fishing net. The flying rodent was returned to the wild, unharmed, but with an abiding fear of screaming women. As it should be.
No sleep was had, by anyone. Except my boys, who managed to sleep through the entire thing. I remember when I could sleep through anything. It was 2004 b.c. Before Children.
Stay tuned for Part 4, Ghosts and Posers. More pictures, fewer words. I promise.