Theatrical Performances Always Have A Price

 

I woke up this morning feeling strange. At first I thought maybe I was getting sick again. Then, I thought maybe I was dreaming. Finally, I realized what it was: I didn’t feel exhausted and actually had some energy. My eyes weren’t on fire when I closed them. I woke up on my own! I haven’t felt this good in a few weeks and I only have Tiny-Small to thank for it.

For several weeks now she has been waking up between 2am and 3am to perform the first and second act of some theater production she has created in her mind while the rest of us are sleeping. For two or more hours we hear her flopping around in her crib while singing, monologuing, and even acting out different characters. On visual inspection (she has a glass window in her door) we discover her dancing, swaying, and doing some acrobatics in her crib too. It has happened every single night for weeks. Her doctor claims this is normal for her age. I don’t know what it means, but she does seem completely dedicated to her future theater career even though she sings off key and only performs in the middle of the night.

For the past three nights she has slept all the way through the night without a peep. On Sunday (Mother’s Day) she was so busy entertaining herself and everyone around her that she only took a small nap. She spent quite a bit of that day climbing on and off her Auntie’s couch and running around outside trying to play hacky-sack. All of that fresh air and busy-bodied-ness really paid off because she “slept like a baby.” Not a literal baby because we all know they don’t really sleep all that much, but a made for TV baby that sleeps through the night from the moment of birth and only cries on cue.

 

The fact that she slept through the night did not escape me on Monday so I did my best to recreate the activity level Tiny-Small experienced on Sunday. I became Mommy-dictator and forced her into toddler slave labor. She was out in the garden weeding, watering and replanting. Well, I did most of the replanting because she had some trouble telling the good plants from the bad plants or as other people call them: weeds. She did most of the watering which meant her diaper was bloated and falling off, her shoes were like tiny reflecting pools, and her clothes were soaked and weighed several more pounds than usual. We were outside for hours lugging the hose around and fighting off the dogs who wanted to go on a walk or chew on Tiny-Small’s gardening tools. We were working our butts off in the hot, hot sun. Did I mention I slathered sun screen over every inch of Tiny-Small’s body but completely neglected to put one drop on myself?  All of that fresh air and hard, honest work must have done something because even with a normal nap Tiny-Small slept through the night again.

On Tuesday, we went up and down the stairs what felt like a million times. It may have only been 6, 8, or 10. I lost count. I had laundry to put away and Tiny-Small helped. All of those stairs must have knocked her out because she slept through the night again. It was either that or all of the energy she used up dancing to her baby Elmo video.

Luckily, I have been sleeping through the night too. Usually when Tiny-Small sleeps through the night I wake up in a panic imagining the worst and I am compelled to go into her room and check on her. I always think something horribly wrong has happened because she usually wakes up at some point to practice her singing and when she doesn’t some alarm in my brain goes off. Is she still breathing? Has she finally attempted to climb out of her crib, but gotten stuck half way? Is she too hot or too cold? I always tell Jim, “Let sleeping babies lie.” It’s supposed to be, “Let sleeping dog lie.” I’ve adapted one of my many sayings for baby use, but like most of my own wisdom and advice I never want to follow it myself. That’s why I am the known baby-waker-upper. I have to see her breathing even if that means sneaking into her room and pulling the covers back a little and then trying to sneak back out again. I always forget about the squeaky door or don’t notice that the dog has snuck in with me and is attempting to lick Tiny-Smalls head until it is too late.

 

However, I guess I am starting to outgrow that phase of motherhood because for three nights in a row I slept like a TV baby too. The alarm in my brain never went off. I just drooled on my pillow and woke up when the birds started singing. I think this might be a reason to celebrate, but last time this happened Tiny-Small went back to her old ways after about 8 days or so. I think she might just take a week off from her theater show once in a while. It’s like she needs a sleeping vacation before promoting herself and her future work on stage. I just keep wondering which one of us has the sleeping problem. I think it might be me because she really doesn’t seem to mind being up half the night. Maybe someday she will be on Ellen telling the audience about how she loved to be on stage and has been practicing since she was two years old. Maybe she is a child prodigy and will star in the off-off Broadway version of Wicked at 5 years old. Maybe it will only be the You Tube version, but still…. Or, maybe she is a child who delights in keeping her mother awake at all hours of the night. Only time will tell, but I am keeping my fingers crossed for the first scenario. I’d like to think my sleep sacrifices are being made for some kind of greater good even if it is only You Tube or community theater.

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