Last night was one of those rare occasions everyone in the house went to bed without incident, fell asleep soundly and then around 3am awoke ready to start their day. When I say everyone of course, I’m referring only to the kids.

I heard Ellie call, “Mom” twice before I budged. I guess because I wanted desperately to believe at 3am the first call was in my mind, in my dream or any one of the random toys that speak only in the night, unprovoked from beneath a basket of dolls in the wee hours.  Anything I could cling to that meant it wasn’t actually happening. The second time, I knew I had to react. Unlike the baby safely confined to a crib, Ellie can come to me if she feels I haven’t made the necessary jump-start to bolt to her room and heal what’s ailing her.

She stood at the foot of our bed and simply said, “I had a bad dream.”

Dilemma.

I used to take the kids by the hand and walk them back to their rooms, tuck them into their own beds and make them feel safe and secure back where they started. The bad dreams are now few and far between and I know the kids have an unspoken understanding of my opinion of the “family bed” so I didn’t worry about offering her a place in between Greg and I this one time. Also, I was far too tired to walk ten steps back to her bed and was much more effective directing her from the comfort of my own duvet.

I also know there will soon come a time when running to Mommy and Daddy for help in the night won’t happen so there’s something nice about having a tiny, grateful little snuggler sharing a portion of the mattress….at least in theory.

I had forgotten how much heat such a tiny body could throw. I reached for the mattress heater to dial it down before realizing it hasn’t been on the bed since early spring. How much kicking, tossing, smacking and possibly a series of stride jumps followed by a cheerleading pyramid a five year old is capable of while in complete REM sleep is worth a full examination from the Pediatric Society of Sleepless Parents.

Just when her knee cap had found a home in between two discs in my spine I started to regret the decision to save her from her bad dream. I guess I should have asked her to be specific. Maybe the dream was about a lack lustre meal or an unflattering picture she saw of herself in which case I might have instead sent her packing.

Next up, “Mom! Mom! Mom! Peez! Peez! Peez!”

How is it with Greg’s busy schedule he’s had time to teach the baby to call out my name only in the middle of the night and to throw in a couple of pleas of “Please!” to get me hopping.

Off I went knee cap still lodged in my back to see if Chloe was suffering from the same nightmare Ellie was. It turns out at 3:18am, she was just up.

I leaned over and gently stroked her face where she sat quietly lulling herself back onto her fleecy blanket. I was careful not to pick her up because as cute as middle-of-the-night cuddle time is, I knew I would never be able to place her back into her crib without her throwing a fit so I was best taking the “petting the animals through the cage” approach as opposed to removing them or giving them any food or drink.

That idea lasted three minutes until she stood firmly held out her arms and ordered, “Up! Up! Up!” I quietly lifted her and sat her on my lap hoping she would drift off to sleep. Rather than drifting, she pointed directly at the bedroom door toward the hallway to playtime freedom and leaned in the direction of fun.

I often marvel at how much of our daily conversation this baby understands but it had become dizzying trying to explain the large red numbers on the alarm clock next to the bed burning 3:27 AM into my retinas.

I changed her diaper and gave her some water, two rookie mistakes as they just assist in waking her further as opposed to helping the zzzz-train return quietly to the station.

In the rocking chair at 4:29am just when I thought I had heard it all, I listened intently to a 19 month olds rendition of the great Freezie scandal of July 2011.

“Freeze. Freeze. Freeze. Freeze. Peeze. Peeze. Peeze. Peeze. Red. Peeze. Red. Peeze! Peeze! Peeze! Red! Red! Red! Gamma Hi! Red! Peeze! No-wuh. No-wuh. No-wuh.”

The classic tale of two children fighting for the last red Freezie, pleading to be chosen, Grandma entering the scene and my refusal to give it to either one until we could agree on a fair compromise was weighing heavily on her brain.

She understood that but couldn’t differentiate between day and night?

Perhaps she’ll understand this book I’m reading her about the lost art of shiatsu massage, Chapter 1—The Back.