We have met the resistance. It is high energy, has sun-streaked hair from endless hours outside, considers Carhartt canvas overalls high fashion and has dirt under his fingernails.
What is he resisting? What every child who has mourned the setting of the sun has resisted since the beginning of time – bedtime.
He has been out of bed for a trip to the potty, a drink of milk, a drink of water, followed by yet another trip to relieve his bladder and, several minutes later, an emergency trip to the bathroom because he forgot to brush his teeth.
He is back in bed now, but I can guarantee you he is not asleep.
Next on the agenda will be the lighting phase of resistance.
‘Grandma! It’s too dark to sleep in here.’
‘No, it’s too light to sleep at your place in the city. This is what night looks like. Dark.’
I plug in a night light. I am nearly out the door, when a sweet voice whispers, ‘Can you turn on the hall light?’
I turn on the hall light. I close the door halfway. I reopen the door. I adjust the door to precise specifications and return downstairs.
Five, four, three . . . ‘Grandma?’
‘Yes?’ Grandma says in a sweet voice, although it may not be entirely sincere.
‘Grandma, I think I need a guardrail.’
‘You’re in a double bed with a younger brother half your size, who I might add, has been asleep for an hour. Why would you need a guardrail?’
‘He flops around. You don’t know what it’s like. He’ll be all over me, arms, legs, punching, kicking. I’ll have to roll to the side to get away from him and I’ll fall out.’
Grandpa puts in a side rail. We both head for the door, when a plaintive voice cries out, ‘You have ghosts!’ He bolts upright, eyes bulging.
‘We do not have ghosts.’
‘Yes, you do. Listen.’
‘That’s not a ghost. That is the neighbour’s dog, Ollie, singing. It’s kind of pretty once you get used to it.’
‘Does he know any other songs?’
‘No, Ollie is a one-hit wonder. Now go to sleep.’
Five minutes pass, six, seven . . . no footsteps, no running water, no toilet flushing.
‘What now?’ I call in a whispered yell, bounding up the stairs.
‘The stars are falling!’
‘This is the last time ...’ I walk in the bedroom and he’s right. Stars are falling.
‘I thought you’d like to see it.’
‘Of course, I would!’
They are glow-in-the-dark stars that our son put on the ceiling years ago. The adhesive has dried and they’re falling, one here, a couple over there, like an indoor meteor shower in slow motion.
I sit on the side of the bed and together we watch the stars fall.
His little chest slowly rises and falls and he is at peace with the night.
‘What did it take?’ The husband asks when I reappear.
‘Nothing much, just a few falling stars.’
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