I have been working on a sleeping map. As the holidays approach, 11 grandkids will converge to spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa’s without their parents.

We did this once before, last summer, and still have the dark circles under our eyes to prove it.

They all wanted to be together in the family room and, for some reason, temporary insanity or lack of caffeine, we agreed to the idea. We gleefully helped pull the cushions off the couch, happily made out the large sofa bed, unfurled sleeping bags and gathered every pillow and blanket in the house.

There were four in the sofa bed, two on the floor beside the sofa bed, one under the sofa bed punching the underside of the mattress, two more in sleeping bags with their heads in the family room but their torsos in the hallway.

As it turned out, the smartest ones were the twins who took refuge between the bookcases and a makeshift wall of sofa cushions. The space was constricting, but they had decreased their odds of being hit by projectiles in the dark.

Naturally, “good night” and lights out was followed by laughing and yelling, flying stuffed monkeys and teddy bears, and shouts of “You took my pillow!” all of which lasted for hours.

Shortly after midnight, the noise abruptly waned, but only because the famine had arrived.

They were all in desperate need of nourishment. We should have known hunger would be contagious. Thirst was contagious as well. Sleep was not.

Nourishment and rehydration were followed by more jockeying for space, laughing and screaming, silly riddles, storytelling, and a contest to see who could do the best fake snore, but not a wink of sleep.

It was nearly 2am when the phantom appeared.

It loomed in the darkened doorway, silhouetted by a single light from the kitchen. It appeared unsteady on its feet, hair standing on end and wearing a long robe, similar to Grandma’s, the sort that could double as a magic carpet and carry a creature on the night winds. 

The phantom slowly raised an arm and sighed, “Stop.”

The commotion didn’t stop all at once, but slowly, gradually, eventually, with each tick of the clock, it crawled to an end. Then it happened. The most wonderful peace bloomed and grew and engulfed the entire house with the sweet, palpable silence of children asleep.

There is a magic and wonder to a full house at rest. It is not a tangible that can be bottled or sold, but something you experience in the dark and the quiet, knowing that for a few blissful hours those you love are in safe harbour, gently drifting with the waves in a calm slumber.

In hopes that sweet peace fills the house before that phantom has to make another appearance, I am at work on a map – two in that room, three that room, three on the sofa bed, three in sleeping bags on the floor.

Our motto has changed from, “The More the Merrier” to “Divide and Conquer.”

More from Lori Borgman