As a child grows up, so comes his innate ability to mentally and physically torture his parents – Napoleon Bonaparte, 18something-something.
We might have sent our son away for two weeks, but trust me when I say those two weeks were not as fun as we expected it to be. Now that I think of it, we did have our bed to ourselves. If you’ve slept on the same bed with my son, then you’ll know how relieved we were to not have him rolling from an angle 60 to an angle 90. I can’t really say if he is always plotting a graph or drawing a map, but that boy sure knows how to roll all over an 8×8 mattress at 100km/hour.
Marking his territory all over the bed aside, we sure did miss him, his laughter and general silliness. He had started walking barely three days before that trip and we were missing it all. Oh we just couldn’t wait for him to return, we really couldn’t. Just like children promised some candy, we were ecstatic. If you walked into our house a day before he returned, you probably would have gotten high from the happiness fumes we unknowingly gave off.
Our naiveté was becoming epic. We were not aware of what awaited us; if we were, we might have postponed his return for maybe one more week, a week to mentally and physically prepare for what was coming. Indeed, winter was coming.
We headed to Lagos after we picked him up from Owerri. He was really radiating, looking fatter, always laughing. I can’t even remember a single time he cried over there. The thought of leaving him in Lagos with my mother started feeling like a possibility. I mean, if he spent two weeks with his maternal grandmother and ended up looking that fat, imagine what another two weeks with his paternal grandmother would do. Grandmothers have this ability to make you start doubting your parental prowess. You’ll leave your kid with them for a day and they’ll come back looking like they are mother and child and you, the weird uncle that pays the bills, a living breathing ATM machine.
I should have listened to the cunny-cunny pleas of my mother. “Nna, leave him for one more week, I still want more time with him,” she would ask almost on a daily basis. She even went as far as trying emotional blackmail. “After you left him with his other grandmother for two weeks, why do you want to give me just four days? Umu nkaa, obi unu di na azu…” This was easily thrown around whenever she was playing with my son; I had to promise a longer trip soon for her to calm down.
I really missed the boy. I wanted him back at home, and I wanted him all to myself. He after all was and is still my Preciousssssss. Back to Abuja, he was home, he was back and we were having a swell time, until darkness fell on the land and he fell asleep.
I don’t really know how, I can’t really explain because I had never hexperient it. But he remembered, my son remembered we bundled him away, he remembered we tampered with his beautiful food packaging. What was that bitter thing we rubbed all over? Did we send him away just so he would stop drinking breast milk?
HIS BREAST MILK?!
OK nah, make we come sleep make he see. They say pikin wey say him parents no go sleep, himself no go sleep? Well, them no think am say that pikin fit dey smile for him mind as he make him parents open eye like torchlight.
The first night back, after he had slept early enough and had his full, he woke up around 2am and started crying. That was it, no warning, no notice, a jolt from his sleep and started wailing. We shot right up, switched on the lights to check if he was bitten by any bug. I went bug-searching while his mother tried to placate him and we both received a big F9. I found no bug and she wasn’t succeeding with him either. While he was still wailing, his right hand began to work its way around his mothers neck, down it went until he found what he was seeking for. The cries turned to small intermittent sobs as he continued massaging his mother’s breast. Minutes later, back to la-la land.
Son 1 – Parents 0.
Second night, déjà vu! We lay awake as he kept crying again, stopping briefly to gulp down tea from his sippy cup, 290ml of it. Thereafter, hand on breast but no sleep. He kept rubbing and he kept wailing. His mother was at her wits end and passed him over to me. I carried him to the living room, rocking him back and forth until he calmed down. When I was sure he had slept off, I carried him back into the bedroom and lay him down. Immediately, he rolled over to his mom, climbed over her and started crying again. We headed back to the living room, rocking steady until we both slept off, with me standing. My wife later came out and dragged us both back to bed.
Son 2 – Parents 0.
Third night, you’re getting the drift now, right? Two hours thirty nine minutes awake.
Son 3 – Parents 0.
Fourth night was a Friday night. He went to bed early and so did his mom, I stayed awake playing video game until 2:10pm when I heard him cry. The mom woke up, fed him his tea and all was quiet again. It seems we had found the solution or he had decided to be lenient with us, I couldn’t tell. I heaved a sigh of relief and went back to playing my game. Out walks this young man, looks at me, then to the TV and back to me. He walks closer, leans on me and starts crying. Time I finally got to sleep that night? 5:10am.
Son 4 – Parents 0.
This has suddenly become our fate, our destiny, to lay awake at night, cradling him to sleep. We accepted it all, for it had to be only a matter of time and he’d grow out of it. On the seventh night, when I walked into the bedroom to join them in sleep, I saw he had done his regular roll and rolled away from his mother’s side. In a bid not to touch him and avoid awakening him, I slept in between them.
I woke up at 7:15am.
Was this the solution? To be a fence? Could it be as simple as that?
Son 6 – Parents 1.
That is now the plan, I have to sleep between him and his mother, I have to be the wall of Jericho, the wall that blocks whatever maternal scent his mom was attracting him with. It has been working thus far; he wakes up only to drink his tea and heads back to sleep. On some nights, he doesn’t even wake at all and we all sleep till the morning.
At last, we have been forgiven.
Written by Anyibaba