August 16, 2009

Mrs. Wilson could not get her children to sleep in their beds. Each morning at 6:35 a.m. when she shuffled down the stairs to make coffee and watch the news, robe-and-slipper-clad, hair on end at ridiculous angles, her boys, Willy and George, 11 and 10, respectively, were sound asleep on the living room floor, cheeks resting dreamily on the brown-and-cream speckled shag carpet.

It hadn’t always been this way. For a good stretch of time after being toddlers, outgrowing night lights and sleeping in the bed with her and the boys’ father, Willy and George slept in their own bedrooms, placidly, normally. But one day, tripping on the way to the kitchen over Willy’s outflung arm, Mrs. Wilson found her sons comfortably asleep on the soft carpet.

She hadn’t anticipated it becoming a routine, but quickly learned otherwise. At first she stuck to the schedule, the way it had always been, tucking each boy separately into bed, smoothing each’s hair and kissing each’s forehead, saying goodnight, then soundlessly slipping out the door, which she kept open just a sliver, just in case. Still, in the morning the boys would be sprawled out on the floor of the living room.

Mrs. Wilson figured then that she would simply allow Willy and George to fall asleep downstairs, on the couch, on the carpet, who cared, and then, although they were getting bigger and it wasn’t as easy now, carry them up the stairs and plop them into bed.

When this, after a week of sore arms, still found the boys resting on the living room carpet by morning, Mrs. Wilson gave up. She considered it a failure as a mother that she couldn’t even carry out the simplest of mom-duties: putting her children to sleep in their own 500-count-sheeted, down-comforted, 20-year-guaranteed matressed beds.

Visions of George’s carpet-marked face when he gave her good morning hugs replayed in her head at all times. Vexed, she attempted to discern the appeal of downstairs sleeping. Apparently, both boys had no real attachment to the shag carpeting; subconsciously, during the night, they simply made their way to the first story of the house and resumed their slumber. When asked why, Willy said he didn’t know. George said simply, “Because I’m tired.”

But Mrs. Wilson was tired too. Tired of a deviant home life where her sons slept like refugees and she wasn’t a good enough mother to ensure they didn’t.


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