One day my mom asked, "Did you hear about the 3 year old found walking his dog at 3 am along the avenues?" Why, yes! I had seen that on the news. "I thought of you," she said. While the people interviewed on the street may have ragged on those parents, I didn't. Plus, what were those unthinking critics uh, thinking? I felt like asking them "How many of you are awake at 3 am supervising your children to make sure they're still asleep? " As a matter of fact, if your kids stay in bed all night, and LET you sleep, I'd consider yourself lucky. Here's my story:
As best I recollect, it was about May or June of 2003. Papi had just recently acquired a huge quick set pool. Carino was a fish in the water, but it made me a little nervous having a pool with such small children. The Things were just one year old, Carino was just 4, Gigio was 4 and Enigma was almost 13.
So, Papi was working at night and I was so burnt out(don't ask me why, ha ha) and the children were not at all tired. I just didn't have the energy to put them all to bed so, I ended up with all of them on my bed watching a video with the lights off in hopes of inspiring them to doze off into dreamland. No such luck. I was the only one dozing off. When the movie ended, I sent them to the other room with a boob tube and another riveting video along with blankets, pillows, lights out, etc. Often a nice camp out with the siblings will bring on some zzzz's, right? In any case, they were much more likely to stay put and not get in much trouble that way. It was now about 10:30. they probably wouldn't finish the movie. Any pediatrician will now chew me out for not putting them in their beds, without a TV set, but I was absolutely dying from sleep deprivation. I would have to be a model parent another night.
I went back to bed and collapsed. That was all I remembered. Then next thing I knew, the doorbell was ringing and I shot out of bed to get the door. Occasionally my husband will forget the key to the house and have to ring the doorbell to get in. I unlock the door, expecting my dear mate of course, and I am shocked to see, upon opening the door...Carino, bawling his little eyes out. My first thought is how rude of his siblings to lock him out, probably over some squabble. I pick him up and hug him and comfort him while asking him how he got out there. He wasn't extremely verbal at this point so the description was cryptic and chopped, punctuated by sobs. I carry him to the other room to start the big inquisition with the siblings, ready to put someone on the racks for this one, but everyone is fast asleep. I look at the clock as the fog starts to clear from my brain. It's nearly a quarter to one a.m. So how did Carino get outside and then lock himself out? I was mystified. Then I discovered a side door unlocked and a chair next to it. Hmmm. Once he got outside this door, there was a step down, so he probably couldn't get back in. I'm glad he eventually thought to go to the front door. He was probably terrified alone in the dark like that.
I put him to bed and soon got him to sleep, but now the sleep was completely gone from my eyes. My mind was going in a million directions. I was thinking of the stories of kids who get out at night in the winter and freeze to death. Thank goodness it was summer. What if it hadn't been? What if he hadn't found the door in the blizzard howling outside? What if he had just curled up on the doorstep to be found frozen like a popsicle the next morning? My teeth started chattering. Out of fear.
What if he had wandered off, or decided to go play at friend's house, or some creepy person were outside and saw him and took him away. What if there just happened to be a burglar looking for a great spot to hit? What would have become of my little boy? Why was he awake anyway? He's my sleeper. Put the guy in a dark room, he's gone in 10 minutes. Why was he so awake? Maybe he was turning into his siblings and was going to stop sleeping at night. Now THAT was a really scary thought!
Why did he even go outside? Oh my gosh! The pool! What if he had gone into the back yard and tried to climb into the pool and got in but then couldn't get out? Eventually he would fall asleep and drown. Now I'm having visions of his little body floating face down in the pool the next morning, when it was eternally too late!
I had to do something. I couldn't let any of these terrible things happen to him or any of the other kids. I started playing the piano. I know, great solution. Don't ask me why, I'm a terrible pianist. I'm not being modest either. Truly, I am a terrible pianist. So terrible that it is preferable to sing a capella in lieu of my accompaniments. I just didn't want to fall asleep until my husband got home.
He was the one with the huge look of confusion on his face when he walked in the door and heard my "music" and I jumped up from the piano bench and told him we had to put another set of latches at a greater height on each door to the outside, ASAP. He didn't do it that night, but he did do it within the next few days. To this day I still don't sleep as easily as before. Yep, I'm scarred for life. How about you?