One of the biggest worries we had about going on this trip was whether or not Leta would sleep on the bed available at the hotel. We always stay at the same place when we visit San Francisco, and she’s now too big to sleep in the crib that we’ve used in the past. At home she sleeps on a toddlerbed, one that we cannot pack and carry with us, so a few weeks ago when we visited my mother’s cabin for the weekend we decided to have her try out a regular bed for a night. To see how it would go. Except, you see how I wrote about that so calmly? “To see how it would go.” That is a distortion of reality. There was no seeing how it would go. There was dread and anxiety and heartburn. The same emotions we have when we try anything new with Leta. Life with her is like shaking a two-liter bottle of Coke and then watching the pressure build right before I open it.
There is this old piece of wisdom that goes something like, the act of thinking something makes it so, or something stupid like that. And there are certain people in my life who think that when I dread something I am causing that dreadful thing to happen. I like to think of it more as my super power, that I can see into the future and predict when a situation is going to turn out badly, and my anxiety about it is my way of warning everyone around me to RUN FOR YOUR LIVES.
Intuitively I knew that Leta was going to have a hard time sleeping in a normal bed, even though she showed nothing but excitement in the hours leading up to it. We hyped it with as much thundering bombast as the second coming of Jesus Christ, and she ate it up. A BIG! NEW! BED! And after making every arrangement for it to be a safe place for her to sleep, after pushing the bed up against the wall and then barricading the other sides with pillows and chairs, we read stories, kissed goodnight, and she fell right asleep. Everyone was quick to point out how it was no big deal, but they couldn’t hear the belly of the earth rumbling underneath, and hours later, just as Jon and I climbed into bed for the night, she began screaming uncontrollably. Like I had predicted she would. My thinking about it made it so? I’m thinking its less of that and more of I KNOW MY DAUGHTER.
I ran in her room to be with her, calmed her down immediately, but then every time I tried to leave she’d start screaming again. So I was sentenced to sleep with her for the rest of the night, a sentence not unlike 25-to-life. Throughout the night she kicks and thrashes and clears her throat, and just when you think she’s finally settled she will sit straight up, her tangled hair illuminated by the moonlight coming through the window, and ask for a bowl of Cheerios.
Fast forward to this trip. Fearing a repeat of that night at the cabin we’ve made her a small bed on the floor, and she’s fine until the occupants in the room below us start smoking enough pot that we can actually see it coming up through the floor. The smell doesn’t wake her, but the DUDE! HAVE YOU GOT ANY OREOS? startles her a bit, and the BANG BANG BANG of the metal gate outside jars her completely, a banging so melodic that if you put your ear up to it you could probably hear the voice of Bob Marley. No seriously, try it. It’s like, the gate is the channel through which we hear the truth, man. You just have to listen, you have to open your mind.
San Francisco, sometimes you can be so predictable.
And it’s another night with Leta in between us, her arms and legs playing drums to an imaginary rock song. You know that beautiful image you sometimes see of two parents sleeping soundly with their angelic child curled up between them? That is not real. That is a lie. They are trying to sell you fabric softener or a cure for your enlarged prostate.
If they were telling the truth there would be much more blood and gore and Zoloft.