Comedian Bill Engvall joked about admonishing his wife to tie a bell around their son’s neck, in order to avoid being scared half to death in the middle of the night. I’m thinking of something similar for Isaac, who once again woke me by standing beside my bed until I sensed his silent, shadowy form.
“Jeez!” I exclaimed, both scared and irritable at yet another night where a good solid hour of sleep is lost. By the time you carry the boy to the bathroom and help him aim properly, then trundle him back to his bed, then step on a toy as you leave his room, and then stub your toe on the way back to your own bed, there is just no getting right back to sleep. All that physical stimulation is just what my brain needs to leap onto its favorite dark-of-night track, which features a panoramic view of all my regrets and fears, suffused with the depressing certainty that I’m not worth a darn as a husband, father, friend, employee, or writer.
All this goes through my mind as I mutter Jeez and lift Isaac into my arms. “It’s not nice to call me a bad word,” he mumbles. I have no idea what he’s talking about. Only this morning does it hit me: he thinks I called him cheese.
Which is not so bad a word as Jeez. But I can see his point.
It’s easy to make up with Isaac. All you have to do is cradle him to your chest and kiss his neck until he squeals. So that’s just what I did this morning. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I can’t pick him up any more. I suppose I should get all my kissing in now. And perhaps tie that bell around his neck.