Thursday, January 5, 2012

Playing Opossum

My sister, Kim, and I shared a room for our entire lives until we were in our early 20's.   I'm two and a half years older than her and I have no recollection of ever having the room to myself; for me, she was always there. Our room was actually the master bedroom of the house, at the top of its own short staircase.  My parents, most likely, were trying to corral the two of us and our overflowing collection of Barbies, Cabbage Patch Kids, and stuffed animals.  Unfortunately for them, our crap was still everywhere.  Luckily for us, they didn't mind too much :)  They were, and still are, the two most tolerant parents I have ever met.

Anyway, we were in total bliss in our shared bedroom.  Kim and I rarely fought - both as kids and adults - and we're the closest sisters that I know.  As kids, we would spend hours upon hours playing and pretending and dressing up.  Our room was little girl heaven for many years...

Until...enter one demon spawn little brother into the picture when I was about 7 years old and Kim was almost 5.

The first year wasn't a big deal.  We carried on with minimal interruption to our young lives.  Then Jim learned to walk and all hell broke loose.  This little terror just LOVED to come creeping up the stairs to our bedroom and tear through the room Tasmanian devil style.  There really aren't words to describe the phenomenon.  I'm sure that we tried to play with him and he was just a terror. 

That's when we had a genius idea:  we would play opossum!

Our plan:  The second we'd hear him giggling his way up the stairs and scratching at the door like the little animal that he was, we'd immediately jump into our beds, pull up the covers, and close our eyes.  We'd even incorporate a little fake snoring for good measure.  Jim would creep up to us in our beds, stare, give us a few pokes, and, if we were lucky, leave. If we were unlucky, he would start jumping on us and beating us with anything he found on the floor, usually clothes hangers.  But that is a scary story for another day. 

 Fast forward 20-some years

Since about month 2, naps with Monica have been a bit of a trial.  The Grub wants to hang out with mommy ALL DAY LONG.  Playing with mommy, cooking with mommy, running errands with mommy, and...when she's really tired...sleeping ON mommy.  Exhausting for me, to say the least.

Therefore, several times a day when she gets cranky, I take a deep breath and pray that my endeavors at a settling her down for a nap will net me a minimum of one hour to myself.  Really, Monica, one hour is all I ask. Just take a nap for god's sakes!

The Grub does not care for an elaborate routine before sleep, whether it be a nap or bedtime at night.  Of this I am certain.  She wants to play play play, and when she is tired, she immediately wants to nurse and sleep.  So when she is cranky, we head upstairs to "snuggle down" as we call it, and I nurse her and pray that she falls asleep without too much fuss.

In the beginning, I was seeing a lot of this:

The suspicious half-lidded stare.  She's exhausted, but she knows something is up, and if she closes her little eyes, she knows there is a risk of mommy sneaking away, leaving her in a solitary slumber...

OR...and this is even scarier...this:

Smiling, giggling and wiggling, accompanied by coquettish batting of the eyelashes

Then I remembered Kim and I tricking Jim...  I would play opossum with Monica!  If she thinks I'm sleeping, she will go to sleep, too!'s working!

So, now when we snuggle down, I pretend (and trust me, it is not that hard to pretend!) to sleep as well.
Now, when I crack an eyelid open and look at her, I am more likely to see this:

A sleeping angel. 

At this point, I can attempt to ease her into her swing for an actual nap, during which I can sneak away to do (oh joy) chores and whatnot.

Unfortunately, this only lasted about two months, until Grub caught on.  Now she is employing a new tactic:

Her left paw strategically grasps my shirt in a death grip.

Extracting myself has about a 30% probability of her waking up.  On a confident day, I press on and attempt the transition to the swing.  But on a rough day preceded by a sleepless night....well, playing opossum sometimes leads to a little nap of my own, and that isn't so bad at all :)

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