Tuesday, June 19, 2012


My husband reads aloud from a collection of Vincent Abraitys essays that he bought used on Amazon.com. Vincent's prose is lovely - he writes of warblers and gentians, Ringoes and the Delaware River. Things familiar in even more familiar settings.

Our son is in my lap, nursing and dozing, yet also flailing. He settles and I think he's asleep. My husband is. The book rests closed on his chest. 

This has been our new routine. Our old bedtime routine had ceased working, for all of us. The arrival of four canine teeth (the worst ones our doctor told us) and a growth spurt or two, made bedtime funereal and desperate. 

I lay my son down. He rolls and lets his body rest on my husband's, smiles, eyes still closed. His eyes open, his smile widens as he looks at me. His teeth are gappy, his mouth open and red. He's exuberant. Milky bliss, we call it. 

"He's laying down. Maybe he's still asleep," my husband says, rousing.

I tense, a little irritated that this is happening. Again. This unusual scene has happened many, many times. The end result is often my husband and I, exhausted, crawling into bed and turning off the lights.  Only then would our son whimper and give in to sleep. This, all after repeated attempts at the bedtime routine. Stories, quiet play, lights out, lights on, stories, lights out, baby wilding across the darkened floor.

"Of all nights," my husband continues. He's tired.

My son rises, not at all asleep. His white-blonde hair a halo as it is backlit against the oven light. Three loaves of fresh bread cool on the countertop. He approaches the light and the gaping, filthy oven.

"The oven is hot," I say and my son stops.

He lays down beside me and fidgets. I tense again. I see a firefly course past the window.

"Do you know what fireflies are? Have you seen a firefly?" I ask him.

In the dim light, I see him smile curiously. He understands I'm asking him a question. Does he hear the word fire? It's a familiar word.

"Let's go see the fireflies."

We exit the house, leaving my husband whose eyes have drifted closed again. I point at the meadow, the fireflies. I hum improvised country soul notes. He watches and makes no move to leave my arms. 

A couple dim stars peek through the light pollution from Hillsborough and Route 206, maybe from Montgomery High School. 

My son leans his head against my chin. I know him well enough not to coax is head to my shoulder. Even the gentlest touch is too direct for him. Sleep, my husband and I have learned, is a kingdom of wild stallions and mares, adventurous, challenging, occasionally fierce and fighting, yet sometimes placid and easy. 

His head turns to watch the fireflies. I hum and murmur, enjoying the fireflies. I had hoped to show him fireflies and could only do so if bedtime was late. And so, it is a late bedtime. 

My son shifts, letting me know he is ready to sleep. He lays in my arms and drifts to sleep. I walk to the barely lit house and in through the creaky screen door. My husband had risen. I lay our son down, and find my husband typing in the office.

"So you went to see the fireflies?" he says looking up at me.

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