Company in Bed

Short Stack is in tough shape at the moment, but on the mend. He’ll be fine thanks to the miracle of modern medicine and unlike parents of just a few decades back, we have no life altering concerns about our son’s current health. He has pneumonia, though not a very severe case. What the illness has done has turned our normally lone wolf-ish, self entertaining kiddo into a baby lemur who just wants you to be with him. Preferably within reach. Very preferably, actually in his tiny grasp.

Last Friday night was not fun for anyone involved. Somehow, and I still don’t know how, Lulu Belle managed to sleep through the entire ordeal of a three year old coughing, vomiting and yelling, “I don’t like this! I don’t like this!” at the top of his lungs.

None of us, naturally, liked this.

sick_kid

It was his first real illness since a bout of croup when he was just a miniature version of himself and thankfully, he doesn’t recall that experience, though we certainly do. After his second round of coughing, then vomiting and then crying, which kicked off the coughing again, things finally settled down and with a freshly made bed and his third set of Pj’s he was succumbing to exhaustion. So were Action Girl and myself. It was three in the morning and we were officially running on our personal reserve batteries. To say that Short Stack was in a fragile state of mind is an epic understatement. Everything was making him cry, which led to the progression of coughing and barfing. We were ready to do what ever made him happy. What he wanted more than anything was not to be alone. Not for one second.

So, with a good deal of leg and arm folding, I managed to fulfill his request and joined him in his bed. His bed, by the way, is built for a toddler and uses a crib mattress.

toddler-bed

Throw in the pile of pillows needed to keep him elevated, a half dozen necessary stuffed animals and a full headboard and footboard and there was not much room left for dad. As I crunched my frame into the corner and he nestled into my arms, I remembered doing just this same thing on the far roomier couch when he was maybe four months old. He had a cold and needed to sleep sitting up so he could breath. It was scarier back then, not only because it was our first time as parents but also because he was so small. I did, however recall having a heck of a lot more leg room. This time, he was bigger, wigglier and due to his low grade fever and fleece pajamas, was like cuddling a coal stove. A wonderful, soft coal stove that you’d die to protect, but a sweat factory, none the less.

As I lay there listening to his breathing get regular and deep, I closed my eyes and was transported to the various times my parents had held me while I stretched out, limp and exhausted after a night of some illness or other and realized now, just how hard it was to live through as the concerned parent. From my memory as the sick child, I also remembered not wanting to be alone either.

My folk’s room wasn’t more than a step away from my own, but when I was sick and didn’t dare move, it seemed like they might as well have been on the moon. I can still pull up the feeling of being alone in the dark while Mom and Dad were just over there, snug in the same big bed, sound asleep. I craved that company and though Mom or Dad would always cuddle with me after stories, my bed was too small for two and not conducive to sleeping with a parent hogging up the majority of the mattress space. As a kid, it always felt like an injustice that I was solo each night while they had each other. No number of plush, foam filled animal friends seemed to fill that void. That and the unmistakable fact that the skeletons in my closet were just waiting for me to nod off before leaping out and devouring me. That most defiantly didn’t help.

One day, in a non-ill state of mind, I hit upon the solution. It was perfect! I could have my own bed AND someone to share it with me. It was fool proof! That night, I brought up the idea to my Father. “What we need,” I said triumphantly, “are bunk beds! That way, you can sleep here with me and we’d each have all the room we need!” To a five year old, this was a breakthrough of logic. Dad was always telling me to stop wiggling when I was supposed to be falling asleep and I always felt crunched between him, the wall and the stuffed animals.

The animals, by the way, were there to keep the skeletons at bay. I figured if magical monsters could get me in the night, then my plush friends might just as logically rise up to be my personal army. That’s why I liked the stuffed seals and the alligator. Those things could BITE!

In the end, I think it worked out for me. I’m still here, aren’t I?

As I recall, Dad mumbled something about Mom being lonely and how that wasn’t fair, but to be honest, it didn’t seem fair the other way either. I thought briefly about a triple bunk but doubted that one could clear the ceiling. Someone was bound to be left alone. I just didn’t see why it had to be me.

I out grew it, naturally, but was glad on the day I no longer slept alone. Granted, the space is nice to have and I do tend to loose the blanket war from time to time, but I do understand where Short Stack is coming from. It’s no fun to be alone in the night, even if Mom and Dad aren’t far away at all. Throw in being sick, and it’s enough to make a three year old cry. Which leads to coughing and other things at times. As I said, he’s on the mend and we’re happy to see him more like him self but he still doesn’t want to be left in his room come lights out time. He remembers having me to cuddle up to that night and he wants it again. I can’t blame him. We’ve talked about how that was a special thing and how it can’t happen every night, and that’s true. It is special. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. I didn’t get to sleep much while shoehorned into a bed made for a child and holding on to my little boy, but that’s not the point. I can sleep later. I’m just glad that I had the chance to make him feel safe when everything he thought he understood went out the window.

With two kids, I’m pretty sure we’ll be doing this again some day. If either of them comes up with my bunk bed idea, I’m going to have a heck of a time talking my way out of that one.

“But Dad, you can sleep with me in my room and Mom can stay with Lulu Belle! It’s perfect!”

“Ummm, yah. Well… You see, Short Stack…”

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5 Responses

  1. oh, poor Short Stack, pneumonia is horrible, my Finnur got it when he was 2 and had to be at the hospital 5 whole days with oxygen in his nose. Hope he’ll be better soon.

    He was seven, when he stopped crawling into our bed in the nighttime…

    Thanks! He’s doing a lot better and thankfully, didn’t have to go to the hospital. I’m sorry to hear that Finnur went through that. That must have been horrible to go through.

    -TP

  2. Good to hear Shortstack is on the mend.

    Until I was about 8, I shared a room with my sister; after that I had my father’s snoring down the hall to keep the skeletons in the closet.
    I also had an imaginary fridge at the end of my bed for late time snacks, but … that’s another story.

    I love the idea of the imaginary fridge! That’s fantastic!
    As far as snoring in our house goes, that’s my job now. I think it does well at keeping the monsters outside where they belong.
    -TP

  3. Poor wee lad. Tough on the parents as it is on the young ones, innit?

    It’s brutal on the parents. You just wish you could take the sickness out of them and put it on your self. I’d do anything to keep them healthy and it’s so aggravating when you can do nothing but watch and comfort. I think I hate it more than he does.
    -TP

  4. I hope he will forget soon about this episode…

    As far the sleeping with parents is concerned we have decided that our daughter should sleep in her bed, as there are soooo many children in Slovenia sneeking in their parents beds (form week one of their lives), we found it quite strange.
    And to our surprise she didn’t want to sleep with us. Actually, she didn’t even want to be cuddled too much. Until she turned two. Now she wakes ups in the middle of the night and calls me to come and transfer her to our bed. I tried to be strong (a couple of times), but then I succumbed… And I like it! I think it’s so special to have that tiny person that you’d do anything in the world for, so close. Because, she still doesn’t like to be cuddled when awake. 🙂

    Wow. Sounds like your daughter and Short Stack are cut from the same cloth. He’s really not into cuddling at all, but just over the last few months he’s wanted us to join him in bed. We tried it for a while but it just didn’t work out. When we’re there, he want’s to chat with us rather than sleep, which isn’t what we’re looking for at 22:30. So, now it’s back to sleeping alone for him. I feel rotten doing that, but otherwise no one gets any sleep.
    -TP

  5. awww, poor little guy. I’m glad he’s feeling better.

    Lil’bug still sleeps with us every night. I’ve gotten her to sleep on her own through the night only a handful of times. I’ve tried everything and she still ends up in our bed by the time the sun comes up.

    Short Stack is a flailer so “sleeping” with him is a bit of a misnomer. He sleeps, you pull his elbow out of your eye. I love the snuggle time, (something that he isn’t big on during the day) but we have to get some sleep eventually. Still, even though on those occasions where he joins us in bed and keeps me up half the night, I spend those awake hours with a hand on his head and smile on my face. I just can’t do it for two nights in a row and function the next day.
    -TP

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