“Ow. My neck is killing me. What have I done to my back?”
I try to roll over in the bed but something is pinning me.
A familiar sharp object is jabbing me in the spine, and something else sticky is draped over my eyes.
Suddenly I realize what it is.
“Max. Scoot over.”
The pointy object that was digging into my back happens to be a bony knee, which slowly moves out of its painful position.
The strange objects over my eyes turn out to be Max’s fingers, which are probably encrusted in something sweet. When the knee moves, so do the fingers.
“Ahh…That’s better. Now I can sleep,” I think to myself. I close my eyes and, after a few minutes, begin to drift back off to La La Land when a foot flops onto my mouth.
I push the foot off and sit up now wide awake.
I expect him to be giggling, but Max is sound asleep. I look over at the clock and it reads 5:35 a.m.
“Oh well. I guess I’m getting up a little earlier this morning,” I whisper to myself and the day begins.
Max is 7-years-old and has his own bedroom with a perfectly good bed, but for some reason he thinks ours is more comfortable.
He goes to sleep in his own bed (most nights) but despite chastising him for this, somehow manages to show up back in our bed many mornings.
“Max you have your own bed. You need to sleep in it,” his mother and I tell him.
“But I don’t like my bed. I like yours,” he replies with tear-filling eyes and a look of desperation.
“You have a good bed. Come on now. It’s time to go to sleep. It’s getting late.”
“But how come you guys get to sleep in the same room. That’s not fair. I have to sleep in here all by myself. It’s lonely in here.”
Unless his coup de tat is successful, Max will finally fall asleep, but never without a major debate or at least a “serious discussion,” especially when the light goes off.
His skills are swift and his mother and I have to stay on our toes, but he’s an only child and sometimes that swings to his advantage.
No one has been able to figure out exactly when, but sometime between when his eyes close and mine open in the morning, the boy is able to successfully sneak back into enemy lines.
When he slinks into our bedroom, he does so like a stealthy ninja (something he’s been studying from Jackie Chan and Batman cartoons). He makes no sound as he transforms into a shadow creeping into the pitch-black room.
Somehow, through the impenetrable darkness, he’s agile enough to crawl over his sleeping mother and squeeze in between us.
When he does this, he’s able to make himself very small and unnoticeable, but that changes when he falls asleep and his appendages spread in all directions like an angry octopus. It’s as if he’s practicing his Taekwondo moves in his sleep and for some reason, I’m always the punching bag.
I’m used to being Max’s punching bag though, and any other hour of the day, don’t mind it at all.
Max may be 7, but most of his friends are 30.
When I was growing up, there were children in every house on the street.
Now there are few left, so Max plays with the people who have remained in the neighborhood or drop by for a visit and most of those are 30 and above.
He’s spoiled, but not rotten and in fact, is probably more well rounded because of his adult pals.
Don’t get me wrong, Max is well adjusted and loves to play with kids his own age, but can hang with any age group.
His wit and wisdom is well beyond most grown people I know and he uses it to his advantage if you let him.
He’s a sensitive, caring, loveable little fella who can light up any room with his bright smile, but is also a seasoned prankster and a whiz with a whoopee cushion.
He’s a charmer, funny, smart, athletic and good at just about everything he does, which also makes him a fierce competitor, despite the age or size of the person he’s contending with.
He helps me start my day every morning with a hug or a pat on the back, a smile and a “Hey Dad.”
Sometimes he begins a little earlier than expected, and the pat turns into an elbow, foot or a knee to the face, back or stomach. He’s not a brute, though he is getting bigger and bigger each day. He’s asleep when he does it, but it hurts nonetheless and for some reason it seems to only happen to me. His mother is usually spared.
I’ve come to live with it though, and sometimes when I wake up and he’s still in his own bed, I wonder what happened. Did his mother foil his plot before he could execute it? Has he finally come to terms about sleeping in his own bed? Or did he just fall asleep so quickly; he didn’t have time to conjure up his illusive ninja skills?
Max hanging out in our backyard in the rain.