Ah the bed. The place of action, rest and respite. When you are single, it has its uses. When you have children, you can magnify those uses by a quotient of the number of little faces in the house.
We put our kids to bed for both their rest and ours. Respite in our bedroom, if we were lucky enough to sneak away before we were spotted, became our retreat from bedlam in the rest of the house. Our kids were not interested in respite and didn’t always get rest in their rooms. What they were interested in was action, which usually meant those monkeys jumping on their beds. You could calculate the number of mattresses tossed and purchased by the size of monkeys.
Action in the parents’ bed – a delicate topic in the past – might change too, depending once again on the number of monkeys in the house.
I recall one drowsy morning when I awoke sniffing the air, eyes still closed. Puzzled, I mumbled to my husband, “Do you smell dill?”
“No,” came the groggy reply. “Do you smell burnt toast?”
I opened my eyes and jumped, finding myself eyeball to eyeball with our youngest who had been dutifully following the house rules that had been hammered into him and his siblings – no waking up mom and dad till their eyes are open which means they really were awake. He looked cute in his fuzzy yellow pajamas, so I lifted him onto the bed. He snuggled happily between us. That is when the answer to the dill dilemma came to light.
“Why is Otis sticky?” asked my husband.
Upon examination it was revealed that Otis had managed to pry open the fridge, extract a full carton of peach yogurt and drink from it. Most went on those fuzzy yellow pajamas. Apparently not satisfied, he’d opened the closest cupboard, which happened to be filled with herbs and spices, and dumped a package of dill over himself. A trail of peach and green goo led from the kitchen to our bed.
Thinking of trails of goo reminds me of the time when another of our children decided to feed their brethren breakfast whilst their parents were having a rare sleep-in. It was a simple meal of cheerios and milk, conveniently served on the kitchen floor, which turned out not to be particularly convenient for mom when she entered the kitchen. Little heads swiveled from left to right as mom, barefoot, skated past at high speed on a puddle of soggy cereal. Her strangled cry brought dad to the scene. He managed to avoid the milk and just crunched his feet over a pile of cheerios. There were new rules installed into little monkey noggins that day that involved who was feeding whom.
Rules, and terms like rest and respite never come naturally to little monkeys.
They are merely rafts of wishes that parents toss to drift, with shallow hope that they might one day come and beach in the monkey mind.