“Mommy! Come quick!”
I bolted upright at my son’s cry and was two steps down the hall before I even realized I was awake. At least, I think I was awake. The jolting in my heart as a surge of adrenaline rocket-powered my body to the kids’ room conveyed a sort of nightmarish quality to the darkened scene. I raced to Caleb’s bedside, ready to confront wild-eyed marauders, foul sewer-dwelling beasts, or, at the very least, a case of the middle-of-the-night heaves.
“What is it, Caleb? What’s wrong?” I spluttered, still trying to shake the sleep from my head.
“I can’t find Shu Shu!” he wailed.
Shu Shu? My brain stripped a gear trying to process the nonsensical phrase until I remembered. Yesterday, Katie found a discarded baby doll of hers in the closet and, loftily declaring herself too old for dolls, gave it to Caleb with the magnanimous air of a queen imparting a grand favor. For his part, Caleb glommed onto Shu Shu right away*; he informed Paul and I that he was her Daddy and then spent the day poking a plastic baby bottle into her face and wrapping her up in his old baby blankets. When we tucked him in last night, he insisted on making a bed for Shu Shu down at the foot of his bed, complete with a tiny doll pillow and a small stuffed Hello Kitty Happy Meal toy for her “teddy”.
Apparently, Shu Shu didn’t show up for Caleb’s four a.m. roll call.
I have to tell you, when I found out what all the yelling was about, I was not exactly a model of motherly patience and forbearance.
Still, I am not immune to the pathetic cries of my offspring, no matter how irritated I am, so after reading Caleb a tiny riot act about how nighttime is for sleeping and not taking inventory, I felt around on the floor and found Shu Shu where she’d been kicked off the bed and into a pile of dirty clothes.
Nestling his baby back in his arms, Caleb promptly fell asleep.
I, however, lay awake until about twenty minutes before the alarm went off.
All I can say is that he better not expect me to babysit.
* And yes, Paul and I are totally cool with the whole “boys playing with dolls” thing. We figure that this way, Caleb’s future wife has a decent chance of getting him to change a diaper now and then.