I heard the sound of the gate being opened and footsteps going down the stairs. I rolled over under the covers and peaked at the window. It was still dark.
I listened for any other sounds of activity. I didn't hear the girl's voice. I didn't hear the boy's yells. Nothing.
Concerned, I opened the door and glanced down the hallway to see that the girl's door was still closed. The boy's was wide open. A stop in the bathroom on the way downstairs revealed that it was 4:15 am. Too early.
In the sun room the boy sat in the red chair, pointing at the television screen. The husband slumped on the couch beside him.
What happened last night? I asked.
He was up at twelve, replied the husband, and then he was really hard to get back to sleep. Eventually I lay him in the crib and he rustled around for about an hour. I lay down on the mattress in his room.
Go back to bed, I told the husband. I'll try to get him back to sleep.
I took the boy back upstairs to his room while the husband shuffled off to the comfort of our bed. I tried all my tricks but the boy clung steadfast to his resolve that it was now morning and he was no longer tired. As we lay beside in each on the mattress on the floor, our heads beside each other on the pillows, I heard the girl calling to her dad from the hallway.
I'm in here, I said, in your brother's room. Still, she called. I opened the door and saw her standing at the top of the open stairs. I ushered her into the boy's room and tried to coax everyone back to sleep. I was the only one who thought it was still nighttime. Five am.
Downstairs we trooped. I fed them snacks and let them watch videos, firm in my new found conviction that you can watch as much video as you want before 6am and no parental guilt can be invoked. They sat and stood and climbed all over me as I worked to stay awake.
She sat on my outstretched legs watching a video. He sat on my lap facing me. Back to back. I watched the clock.
The husband emerged shortly before 7am. We briefed each other and I headed back to bed.