… and boy, do we have one kid who knows how to take advantage of that. So I wasn’t surprised when Sutton showed up at my bedside at 3:03am this morning. Who knows how long she’d been standing there, because she does this a lot, and like the possessed woman in Paranormal Activity, she just stands there perfectly still and quiet until the force of her gaze bearing down on me shudders me awake.
Despite the fact that she’s been hovering there for who knows how long, she never has much to say when I do wake up. She usually shuffles back and forth, drops her head and asks with the sweetest little face you’ve ever seen, “Daddy, will you tuck me in again?”
“NO!” I shout… sometimes.
She knows she’s not supposed to get out of bed, and she’s definitely not supposed to wake me up at 3:03am, so we have a strict no re-tuck policy, which she nonetheless tests every chance she gets. Sometimes I’m too tired for the fight, so I cave.
Like I said, though, this time is special, because we sent her to bed with a fever and a lung-busting category 5 cough. Honestly, I’m surprised she made it that late before wandering down the hall, even more surprised that this time she had a good reason for getting out of bed.
“I’m wet,” she announces, matter-of-factly. I feel her pants and sure enough, she peed through her pull-up.
I drag myself out from under the loving warmth of my winter blankets and dig out a new pair of pants and a dry pull-up for her. “There you go,” I say, and I give her a gentle pat on her tush to signify, “G’bye!”.
“No, Daddy,” she replies. “Tuck me in.”
I walk her back to the bedroom she shares with her brother. He’s sick, too, so I really don’t want to wake him up. “Climb in, and I’ll tuck you,” I whisper.
“Where’s Mrs. Bunny?” she shouts. I shush her. Miraculously, Bennett sleeps through her outburst.
“Quiet,” I remind her. “Bennett’s sleeping.” I start feeling around in the dark for her beloved bunny-headed blankie, who she can’t sleep without. It’s not easy to find her, because there are at least six dozen plush toys on her bed at any given time. I pick up Miss Piggy. Nope. Then Punaniñas, this weird pink leopard-skinned hamster-like creature who’s been her absolute favorite for about the last two days. Nope. Then Mrs. O’Bunny, the green bunny I brought her back from Ireland. Nope.
Finally, I find Mrs. B in the crack between the bed and the wall. I’m pretty sure this is how Indiana Jones felt when he placed his hands on the Holy Grail. Sigh. “Here you go. C’mon, I’ll tuck you in.”
“No, Daddy,” she says. “The sheets are wet!”
“The sheets aren’t wet, Honey. They’re –” I feel the sheets. The sheets are wet. Sigh. “Okay, I’ll get you a new blanket.”
I grab a blanket from her bedside. It’s covering up another six dozen or so plush toys who wouldn’t fit in her bed, so she’s created this odd co-sleeping arrangement for them instead. “No, Daddy,” she says. “I want Tiana!”
A minute later, I’m back, and she’s waiting patiently at her bedside, enjoying this late-night edition of “The Daddy Show” she’s quietly scripting as she goes along. She waits until I have the blanket positioned and tucked before she adds, “Daddy… The bottom sheet, too.”
She’s sick, I tell myself. The rules are different when your kid is sick. “I’ll be right back,” I say. I grab the flashlight again.
The next thing I know, I’ve stripped the entire bed, taken out the mattress in order to get the fitted sheet on, and now I’m on my hands and knees, painstakingly tucking the corners of the top sheet.
This is it, I decide. This is the last demand I give into. I don’t care if she’s sick or not. I just want to go back to sleep. That’s when I hear her voice again.
“Daddy?” she whispers.
I try to ignore her, but she says it again, more urgently this time. “Daddy!”
“You’re doing a really good job.”
That’s when I give her a big hug and a kiss and tuck her in two times, as requested. “Good night, Honey,” I whisper in her ear. “Feel better.”