Last night, as I was walking away from tucking in the girls, Blaisey said, “Once upon a time, there was a dinosaur.” And it was like the oral-story version of 1,000,000 years B.C, and I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t look away. Luckily, Naomi was very tired, so she said, “Blaisey, maybe you could tell the story about the sissy who was too tired to stay awake for a story and the other sissy who loved her very much, so she didn’t tell a story.” So I chuckled and blew them both kisses and said, “Goodnight.”
I turned off the light and listened to Blaisey say, “Once upon a time, there was a sissy who was very tired and couldn’t stay awake . . .” My job here was done. I moved on.
As it turned out, Naomi really couldn’t stay awake. She drifted off. Moments later, Blaisey appeared at our door and said, “I’m hungry.” I said, “It’s very late. What do you want to eat?” She said, “A story.” I said, “I don’t have time to make a story. How about if I carry you to bed and lie down beside you.” She said, “Okay.”
Naomi was asleep, so Blaisey and I agreed to be very very quiet. We agreed to close our eyes. We agreed that I would lie on the floor beside her bed, and she would hold my thumb so I wouldn’t fall off the floor. Naomi did not budge. I stayed as still as a pantomime miming a rock. Blaisey did yoga or some sort of martial art.
I said, “Are you okay, Blaisey?”
She snored a little.
I started to stand. Blaisey said, “Where are you going?”
I said, “To bed.”
She said, “You said you would sleep beside me for a little while.”
I said, “I did.”
She said, “Not a little while enough.”
I lay back down, her hand wrapped tight around my thumb.
Naomi slept peacefully. I lay there biding my time. Blaisey snored while she did some sort of Civil War reenactment. At one point, her arms and legs, well, scattered about the bed, her breathing tame, I began to move towards the stairs. She said, “Daddy, you said you would sleep beside me for a while.”
I said, “Yes, but I’m tired.”
She said, “You can sleep here.”
“But I need to sleep beside mommy.”
“You can bring her up here.”
“But she’s asleep in our own bed.”
“You can bring it up here.”
“But our bed’s heavy.”
“You’re very strong.”
She had a point. I said, “How about if I just lie here a little while longer?”
She held my thumb. I made lesson plans. I wrote future plans. I redrafted the constitution: it went like this: “Just be nice. And let everyone be nice to you.” I wondered why sweat-wicking socks don’t work for me. I thought about how I always (always) overcook spaghetti. I wondered why I don’t just make coffee the night before, so I don’t have to do it first thing while I wake up. Blaisey snored and did little backwards summersaults.
Eventually – just like the first scene from the first Indiana Jones movie – I moved part of her blankey in the place my thumb used to be, and sneaked off into the night.
Blaisey said, “Where are you going?”
I said, “I can’t sleep here tonight.”
She said, “I allow you.”
I said, “But then Mommy will be alone.”
She said, “She has all your t-shirts.” (Long story.)
I walked to the toy trunk and brought her a penguin. (We call it a “piggy” in our family . . . another long story.) I said, “Here, buddy. Every time you squeeze this, I’ll know how much you love me.”
She said, “It might hurt.”
I said, “Well, then, just squeeze the piggy’s thumb.”
She squeezed the piggy’s thumb. I said, “I love you very much, buddy.”
She said, “I know, daddy. I love you very much, too.”
The moral of the story is this: I don’t want much out of life, in fact just three things. 1.) A good I.P.A. each night – very hoppy, a touch of citrus, very bitter (bitter enough to make me wonder why I like I.P.A.s. 2.) Equality for all people in all ways period. And. 3.) I wish that each night somebody would want to hold onto my thumb for longer than I want anybody to hold onto my thumb – it’s probably the best thing in the world.
I realize that’s a lot to ask, but it’s a big world, and today seems like an appropriate time to ask for such things, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed, my arms folded, and my yin curled infinitely around my yang.
Post Script: if anybody knows where I can get a grant or a fellowship for one or several or all of my kids to hold my thumb each night, please tell me. I’d be eternally grateful, and would reciprocate by holding your thumb at a business meeting or while you call a credit card company or whatever some days.