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Thursday, May 03, 2007


All too often one hears adults bemoaning their experiences as children, how they were scarred and psychologically traumatized by their parents’ behaviour or words. Now that I am both a parent and an adult, I find that my ears prick up in the hope of acquiring handy hints, things to avoid. The list of my own parental errors grows as each day passes. If you were of a kindly disposition you might categorize these incidents as mere “eccentricities” but it’s hard to dismiss the weight of evidence to the ”contrary.”
It was a simple enough question afterall, but at 4:20 in the morning, in the dark, I am not in full command of my faculties.
“It is a reptile?”
“What is a reptile dear?”
“A turtle?”
“Do you mean a ‘turtle’ as in American, or a ‘tortoise’ as in English? Oh, actually never mind that, they’re both reptiles anyway, let’s start again. What do you want to know?”
He says nothing just looks at me, with his eyes. I’m not sure if it’s exasperation, bewilderment or despair? Possibly all three?

It’s been one of those nights when we had visitors, unexpected ones. The first one didn’t creep in on us, more of an electric explosion of wild nerve endings. Since no words were forthcoming we concentrated on calming. Now he is calm and asleep but his older brother has also joined us. We are rapidly running short of available "lying down" space. Like all siblings they appear to be connected by invisible lines that conduct energy, one to another.

He has been crouching at the end of the bed, in silence, in the gloom, hovering. [translation = must be genetic] I’m not sure if he’s pretending he’s not here or whether we’re pretending he’s not there. Neither side seems willing to clarify. No-one has the cognitive abilities to communicate effectively.

Spouse and I try to determine why the little one is asleep in his current particular position, the one where your knees are drawn up beneath you, face in the pillow. Mine too, would often be found in this "position." It seems protective, enclosed to repel all boarders. It also looks like THE most uncomfortable position, from the viewpoint of a side sleeper. [translation = someone with a strong aversion to secret suffocation during the night] Sleeping "face down."

“It’s only to be expected when you’re like him I suppose,” spouse sighs in a non-committal burbling kind of fashion of the truly sleep deprived. I agree, “yes, hyper-vigilance does mean that you need to be on your guard at all times.”
“Not very Fung shui though.”
“I thought that was for furniture alignment, not bodies?”
“Er, everything I think.”
“He should be on his back, watching the door, claws at the ready.”
“You think?”
“Not really.” [translation = don’t care, too sleepy]

It is at this point, that he asked his question, the original one, the “it is a reptile,” just following the parental exchange, and doesn’t seem to fit at all, which is a sign that he hasn’t been listening, maybe? Which means that something else has provoked this question, but what?
“What is a reptile? Is that what you want to know? Cold blooded, lays eggs that kind of a thing?” I yawn dredging up brain fluff.
“No. Is he a reptile?”
“Who? Who is a reptile? The lizards for starters, all three of them. Gecky, Stumpy and DJ are all lizards and all reptiles.”
“No. I mean is HE a reptile coz I was thinking he was a mammal.” He shoots a finger at his brother in the gloom.

“Why do you think he’s reptile? You know he’s human, a mammal, just like you, and me too for that matter, now I come to think of it.”
“But, but, but…….you said, you said, you said that he was lying like a turtle.”

This would be a prime example of why, after more than a decade's hard work of trying to learn the lingo, acquire appropriate American language and use words like ‘turtle’ instead of tortoise, I wish I hadn’t bothered!


Phoebe said...

I was awakened at still-dark-thirty this morning myself. A little naked humming child burrowed into my side and added himself to the other two already sleeping in my bed.

I look like an origami crane in progress as I sleep, I'm sure, all folded up everywhichway to avoid all the other people.

gretchen said...

Henry sleeps "turtle-style" too- I've never known another kid who did until now!

mumkeepingsane said...

I had company in bed last night too. Patrick sleeps in every which way. Some positions I can't even get my body into if I tried. He does prefer to be a turtle though. :)

purple_kangaroo said...

I used to love curling up like that as a child, and my kids sometimes do it too. I still like to sleep on my tummy; somehow it feels more secure and less vulnerable.

Mom without a manual said...

It took us until this year to get JP to come to our bedroom if he woke up in the middle of the night. He used to wake up crying and just sit there.

Now he burrows in every morning and ends up pushing Dad out of the bed.

My little guy sleeps in the "turtle" position.

Kelly Wolfe said...

That looks very comfy. Reminds me of the child's pose in yoga which is supposedly restful and energizing.


Joeymom said...

Last year about this time we went to the beach. We have had a visitor every night, save 3, since then. We don't know why, he's always been a champion sleeper. He just now sleeps horizontally across our bed...

kristina said...

That could have been Charlie in the photo---with the blue blanket tightly wound around him.

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