We always keep a small blanket under the seat in our van. Maybe it's because I read a book about a guy who was trapped in his car at the bottom of a ravine for weeks. If that ever happened to me, at least I'd have a blanket. When I was packing up the car to go to Tahoe, I saw that there was an extra blanket under another seat. I almost took it out but decided that I didn't need the space and it could stay. But I pondered that blanket for a solid minute before making a decision.
It's inexplicable, really, why my toddler decided that sleeping was optional on our recent trip. He's been sleeping through the night for more than 10 months so I'm not sure why he woke up--more often than not--in the middle of the night, shouting, "Ah duh!" If we ignored him because, no, son, we are not all done with our sleep at 3:15 am, his pleasant conversation turned to hysterical sobbing.The walls were paper thin. You could clear your throat in the next room, with doors closed, and everyone heard it. My mom and I had full conversations through the shared bathroom wall as we did our hair. So leaving him to "cry it out" wasn't really an option. Unless we wanted two grandparents, two parents, two brothers, and a dog crying it out in their own beds as they endured the shriek of the banshee.
At first, we thought it was because he was in our room with us. Perhaps the curtain we'd hung from the cabin's roof wasn't fooling him as to our whereabouts. So we played musical rooms and moved him into his own space. A couple of times, we gave him a bottle, hoping he'd grow weary as he quietly guzzled his pre-dawn snack. This wasn't really a solution though. He hasn't needed a bottle in the middle of the night in many, many moons. Sometimes he'd snuggle up to us and be just about asleep when, "Bing!" he'd sit straight up and grab a nose or squeal in delight that we were still there.
One particular night, Troy had gone out to the couch with him. After an hour had passed with Will fussing or wailing or full on summoning any nearby coyotes, I went and got him so that Troy could tap out. I'd been lying in bed, not really sleeping anyway.
I tried all my tricks. With Will, I've developed an almost fool proof way to get him to sleep. It works at least 9 times out of 10. On this particular night, as I bounced and rocked and gently swung--simulating an experience that can only be described as hopping on the top of a working washing machine while riding in the back of a school bus--he stared at me with wide eyes, letting out a cry every once in awhile.
"That's it," I thought. I'll take him for a drive. We have never once taken Will for a drive in the middle of the night with the intention of getting him to sleep. Come to think of it, I'm not sure we've ever done that with any of our children. I texted Troy, in case he woke up while I was gone, letting him know that I was out driving. I put my glasses on and grabbed the keys, closing the door behind me.
That's when I realized I didn't have my wallet and that I probably shouldn't drive around the lake at what was now 4:15 in the morning without it. I went to put the key into the cabin doorknob when I realized that I'd grabbed the wrong keys. I had my key ring, which did not possess a way to get me back inside the locked cabin. I stood, tired and confused about what to do next.
I thought about knocking but no one knew I'd gone outside. I assumed I'd scare the crap out of anyone who heard me. In the light of day I can't say that I really care much about scaring the crap out of my husband or my parents but, for some reason, in the middle of the night, this seemed like a mean and potentially dangerous idea. I imagined them jumping a mile--thinking everyone was safe in their beds and being very worried about who was rapping on the door at an inhuman hour. Or, perhaps, they'd hear me, whisper about what intruder was attempting to rattle them in the dark of night, and finally open the door and clobber me with a rolling pin before realizing who I was--their only daughter, his beloved wife.
One thing was for sure. I wasn't standing out in the middle of the Sierra Nevada mountains before dawn. Those mountains are deadly--ask the Donners. I will, probably, meet my death at the paw of a bear because I am not actually afraid of them and have been known to follow them for photo opportunities. But, I was standing out in the open with a small crying child and I feel like that is infinitely more tempting for a bear than a lady with a camera.
I buckled Will into his seat and decided to forego the wallet. It took nearly 45 minutes of driving before Will fell asleep. His shrieking escalated to war time loud and I was slowly losing my tired mind. I drove around the neighborhood. I drove from just north of Carnelian Bay to Tahoe City and back. Three minutes before I got back to the cabin, he fell asleep.
And because I didn't know that he'd transfer if I tried to move him, and because I was still worried about terrifying the whole house, and because I knew I had those two blankets in the back, I decided to stay in the car. I covered up the now snoring baby. I reclined my seat. I tried to sleep. And I could not.
Sometime, just after 6:00, I managed to drift off. At 7:00 my alarm went off so that we could meet my brother's family for breakfast. Will awoke with my alarm, poked his head around the side of his car seat and grinned the sweetest, happiest smile of delight to discover himself in such a situation. Sleeping out in nature, the way God intended it. Sort of. Except, not really. That's the trouble with that kid and it's going to be the death of me (unless it's the bear). He is the wildest of wild men, getting in to trouble wherever he can find it. And I don't expect him to grow out of that any time soon. But his smile can literally reduce to mush even the strongest of mamas.
I texted my own mama. "Are you up yet?"
"In the bathroom, doing my hair," she responded.
"Can you let me in? I'm on the porch."
Her bewildered look when she pulled that front door open was hilarious. Everyone wanted to know why I didn't knock. It was hard to explain in the light of day. But it was okay. We'd camped out in the van. The baby had slept. And I'd burrowed under the blanket I'd apparently left there for a reason.