By Craig Hastings
Please don’t do (try) this at home. We’ve all seen this warning script related to television stunts or something dangerous I may have bought for myself and shouldn’t have. Well, I did something tonight that it might also apply if any of you as parents did as I did when my children were young. I spent many (most) nights sleeping in the same bed with my boys when they were little. As they grew I would slip out just after they fell asleep and return to my own bed. Then only if I hadn’t myself fallen asleep and when I woke up was too lazy to get out of their beds and return to my own.
So it’s Saturday of this past week, and Shannon has an overnight guest that will require that I bunk somewhere else in the house. Nine-year-old Riley whom I’ve known since her birth will be staying with us this night. She has grown up for sure since her last overnight with us and is a welcome guest in our home. She and Shannon have a few girl things planned two of which included me. The first would have the three of us sitting before the big screen and taking in a couple of hours of “Live PD”. I was pleased to learn this show was one that Riley and her family watch every Saturday evening just like Shannon and I. Now the second event wasn’t one I was told I might be a participant.
I knew that Shannon and Riley would be doing the makeup thing, hair curl twist, and finger and toe nail redo tonight but gave this not a second thought. Well, I was all settled in watching round two of Live PD when it happened. “Craig, I have to get Riley’s things ready for bed. She’s started taking her own fingernail polish off, and I need you to help her get her toenail polish off please,” blurted Shannon as she walked into the kitchen. Yikes! I didn’t raise girls. I have no idea how this works! Yes, yes I know, I’ve seen it done more times than I can count but the only time I was ever involved in putting it on and taking it off was when I pranked someone or had been pranked myself.
Okay, I admit that maybe, maybe, when my brothers were asleep I might have grabbed a bottle of color who cares and painted a toenail or many of my younger brothers as they slept at night. I think I may have even painted a nail or two of Payton and Lukas when they were like eight or nine years old. They would in later years return the prank back onto me. This was the only experience I ever got removing nail polish. I also discovered tonight that there are different qualities of nail polishes. The better the polish the more effort required to remove it. The junk I used to prank my brothers and sons with dissolved instantly when hit with nail polish remover. This wasn’t the case with the polish Riley had been painted with the last time she had it done.
Riley is a small child, and I didn’t want to hurt her toes so I was trying to be careful as to the pressure I was using but this stuff was like removing superglue. I quizzed Shannon as to what was up and why was this polish so hard to remove. I think she had already known it was done by a professional and that’s why she deferred this job to me by conveniently having something else to do. Thinking back, why would have I needed to help remove polish because Shannon needed to get things ready for bed? Like what exactly and how long would that even take? I was set up for sure.
No matter. Riley coached me through the process. She told me if we let the remover stay on longer it worked better. Turned out soaking indeed sped up the removal process. Shannon returned just as we finished; imagine that. Oh well, Riley and I had a few laughs through the process and my role in finger and toe nail removal and application was over. I was later asked to comment on the “how cuteness” of the multiple colors Shannon applied to Riley’s nails and practicing my political correctness I always responded with “yeah, sure is”. Had I said anything else I would have been hit with, “You get over here and do it yourself then.” No way.
It’s late and everyone had gone to bed but me and soon I would too. Youngest son Lukas is here so the next best bed for me would be Payton’s. Riley and Shannon were snoring away in my room and since Payton’s room has the same television on the wall that I have this was no big deal right? Door closed, end table light on, television on, phone plugged into a charger, ice tea, cheddar gold fish, and TV remote by my side; I’m all set to fade into the abyss. I should have shut the end table light off. You see I haven’t changed the decor much at all in Payton’s room since his mother and I divorced eight years ago. All of what was still is, and I’m lying in bed looking up at it all right now just as did ten years ago with him lying next to me talking about everything that happened that day and what we would be doing tomorrow.
We used to talk about the various things that adorn the walls and the shelves on those same walls. I’m time traveling backwards in time tonight, and it hurts. It shouldn’t hurt either, after all these were all great memories we shared together all those nights all those years ago. I can remember those conversations liked they happened the night before. Tonight I can remember being part of most of those memories like they happened yesterday. Remembering these things so well is a handicap I think. Instead of feeling wonderful because I still remember so well, I feel terrible because I still remember so well. I’ve got the circle of life running counter clockwise I think. Why?
I tried for about an hour. I should have left the end table light off, but I didn’t. I’ll gather up another blanket and pillow and head for the couch. I would have never gotten to sleep in Payton’s room tonight. I think having 9-year-old Riley here help coax me back in time some too. No matter, once in the TV room, on the couch, cheddar gold fish at hand, and ice tea at the ready to wash them down all was normal for me. Falling asleep and staying asleep worked out just fine. So, will I change Pate’s room around and put a few things away from the early days of the 2000’s….nope. Wouldn’t this make it easier for me to bunk in his room if needed…maybe? Would I be able to sleep in his room say on the floor if Pate was staying the night and sleeping in his bed…for sure, yes?
I won’t change his room and make it different, because then it would no longer be his room. This is the same room he slept in the first night home from the hospital, the same room his mother and I worked in shifts caring for him when he was sick, the same room we waited on him hand and foot as he grew older, and finally; the same room he and I used to fall asleep together talking about all the things dads and sons should be talking about. His bedroom evolved into what it is today from all the years he was a little boy and collecting all the things on the walls and shelves tonight. I just can’t give this up yet. Some might say I’m a weak adult parent that needs to move on…yep, I guess I am, and, no, I refuse to move on just yet. When my memory starts to fail me and I can’t remember clearly what each of the memorabilia means to me then, well; maybe.