Saturday, March 17, 2007
It was late. We should have been asleep, but we weren't-- David because he's eighteen, and me, because I lose track of time when I'm at my computer.
I'm usually in bed long before he is, reading or maybe curled with the cat. Sometimes he stops outside my door and says goodnight. Other times, he comes in, pats the cat, and gives me a kiss. If I'm really lucky, he stretches out beside me, and shares his day, talking about kids and teachers, making it live for me with his talent for imitation.
He's eighteen now, six foot four, already in charge of his own time and activities-- up to a point. But he's still my baby, so when I heard him whisper, "Night, Mom," when I walked past his room on my way to bed, I pushed open his door, and sat on the edge of his bed to give him a kiss.
"Remember when you used to fall asleep on the floor beside my bed?" he asked.
I do remember. It eased him through his nightmare stage. I'd lie on my back, so tired myself that I'd fall asleep too, often waking hours later to crawl into my own bed. If he woke in the middle of the night, he'd come and sleep on the floor beside me.
I was glad when that stage passed, when he learned what "it's only a dream" meant. I was glad when he'd go up stairs by himself to wash his face, brush his teeth, and put on his pajamas. "Night, Mom," he'd yell down the stairs from bed. "Will you come up and tuck me in?"
I was glad when the bed-to-living-room-conversations ended, too. Just when I'd settled with a cup of tea and a book, he'd yell down, "Mom?"
"Who do you think would win in a fight? A Tyranosaurus Rex or Spider
"Tyranosaurus. Go to sleep."
"What was your favorite thing to do when you were little?"
"Read. Now go to sleep."
By the time my tea was finished, my patience was drained as well.
To his "Mom?" I'd shout back, "WHAT?" It was a horrible sound, a shriek that escaped my throat with the force of a sneeze. Patient people are very scary when we snap.
After a pause he'd say in an aggrieved tone, "I was just going to say, 'I love you, Mom."
"I love you, too, David. Now go to sleep."
Who knew that I would miss those days? Who knew they would seem so sweet in retrospect?
Soon he'll be sleeping in a college dorm, the first tentative steps toward a life on his own. He may not need it anymore, but I'll whisper, "Night, Dave," when I turn off my light each night.