It started innocently enough. Thing 1 began navigating the prison walls known as her crib at about 16 months, so we moved her into the spare double bed across the hall. That became my first mistake.
The bed was big enough and comfortable enough for two -- obvious, given it came from my swingin' bachelor days. (Did I mention it was only lightly used during my bachelor days? Insert your best guess as to why.) Nearly every night Thing 1 and I snuggled in until she fell asleep. One successful strategy consisted of me yawning as often and loudly as possibly to pass on the nighty-nighty contagion. It worked so well that most nights I conked out right next to her.
We were at the point of breaking this relationship off for the first time when she developed a horrible muck-filled cough. It was aspiration pneumonia -- a complication of what we later learned was her adventure with the autoimmune disease juvenile dermatomyositis. Now I felt a need to be there next to her in case she started choking on her own gunk during the night. That, and -- I was assured -- I was not required to assist in any way, shape or form with the breastfeeding of Thing 2 going on in the master suite.
Flash forward a few years to a new home, our current one. The bachelor bed has gone to a mysterious Mexican man from Craigslist under condition he'd used it only for religious experiences. It was replaced in our home by an even more comfy, more roomy model from Ethan Allen. The cough is gone but now Thing 1 had another issue -- monsters.
I assured her the contract we signed on the house had a "no monster" clause. I produced a state-and-county licensed inspector (who looked and smelled much like our old newspaper delivery guy) who certified the entire property as sprite-, spirit- and demon-less. I even walked her about her pink bedroom with a lit candle while I chanted sacred anti-beastie hymns that only the most discriminating ear would have recognized as vaguely similar to what the monks sing before the Holy Hand Grenade sequence in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."
It took quite some time, but in the Year of Our Republican-Endorsed Lord 2008, we finally had two breakthroughs. First, Thing 1 stopped requiring me to cradle her head with my arm and shoulder. This has helped restore full feeling and circulation to the arm I use to change our home's many lightbulbs. Ah, my screwing skills haven't been this sharp since the Clinton administration. Second, one day this spring, Thing 1 made a proclamation:
"I'll stop needing someone to sleep with me when I start third grade."
Third grade is now entering its eighth week. It's been a slow, gradual withdrawal as we've tapered our co-habitation time from five minutes to now just 30 seconds. In a week or two, I expect to be able to give her a peck on the forehead, flick the switch and walk away.
Unless, of course, someone, say, leaves the front door open a little too long on Halloween night …
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My Uncool Past
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