There's a kid in my bed!
I was kicked in the kidney and clothes lined in the throat. No, I wasn’t mugged, thank God. I slept next to our eight-year-old on a tiny sliver on the edge of my bed. Over the years, she has acquired several nicknames for her bad behavior while asleep - Baby Ninja, The Octopus, and Beast to name a few. Inevitably, in the morning, I get up bleary eyed and sore in random places. I ask how she slept and her reply is always the same, “I slept great!” Well, I’m glad one of us did!
When I was a kid, I too would sneak into my parents’ bed in the middle of the night. I was clever about it, too! I knew that my dad was the heavier sleeper - so, in full stealth mode, I went in on his side. They had a waterbed, so I snuck in really slowly so as to not rock the boat, uh, bed. If I could get in undetected, my dad would usually stay asleep and I would be able to stay there. But, if I woke my mother, I would be sent back to my own room immediately.
Kids are scared of all sorts of weird things. Sometimes, they are unable to articulate why they are afraid. This has been the case with Baby Ninja off and on for years. This time, I know what she's afraid of. She's afraid of waking up and myself or my husband not being there. You see, during the dumpster fire that was 2020, we lost five people to illness, including both of her grandfathers. She is emotionally empowered in a way that she can articulate that anyone can die no matter their age, and that it is scary. She has come to the realization that one of her parents could die. Is it likely? No. But could it happen? Absolutely. And she is terrified.
There will come a day when I won’t wake up to her beautiful blue eyes inches from mine while she meekly inquires, “Mommy? Can I sleep with you?” There will be a time when she no longer turns to me for comfort and safety. There will be a time when my Baby Ninja prefers her own space to sharing space with me. So, for now, I will tolerate the ninja kicks in her sleep. I will accept that I have semi-permanent bags under my eyes. Most importantly, I will embrace this little human who looks to me for comfort, love, and stability.