Since I did not get the chance to take the kids camping this summer, we decided to pitch our “two-person-and-a-dog-sized tent” in our living room for a week instead. There was ample room for all the kids. And sometimes, me, when I fell asleep in the middle of the pile while reading “one more book”. (On two occasions, I awakened to find a sleeping baby splayed out on my back like an enormous starfish.)
We left each child equipped with a flashlight, a water bottle, and a snuggle buddy to address all obvious middle-of-the-night emergencies. When I crawled into my own bed that first night, I was pleasantly surprised that everyone had settled down so nicely. In the wee hours of the morning, however, I was startled awake by MH standing on my side of the bed holding her Hello Kitty lantern right at eyeball level.
“What’s wrong, Baby?” I whispered.
“It’s Bob,” she stated plainly. “He’s missing.”
“Bob?” I asked, checking the time.
“Yes, Bob,” she confirmed. “I’ve looked everywhere. He’s missing. I can’t sleep without him.”
“Oh,” I said, rather sleepily.
I stumbled out of bed and walked to the hallway with the tiny, determined search party.
“Where have you looked?” I whispered.
“Everywhere,” she answered.
“Oh,” I said, rather disappointed.
We took a lap around the house, avoiding snoozing cats and misplaced shoes. Luckily for me, Bob was spotted just before we started the second lap.
“There he is!” MH pointed out, shaking her head as if Bob had been so naughty.
“Where?” I asked, rather relieved.
“Right there, on your shoulders, Mom. He is so sneeeeeeaky.”
“Yes,” I said. “He certainly is.”
MH (and Bob) stomped down the hall, as only three year olds can, back to their sleeping quarters. I heard the jingly whoosh of the tent zipper zipping and a soft thud as they landed in the middle of the soft pile.
And then, “Good Night, Bob.”
MH: “Mom, have you seen Bob?”
Me: “Nope. When’s the last time you saw him?”
MH: “Well, I’m not sure. (Pause.) He’s invisible, you know.”
MH: “Did you know that Bob has chickies now?”
Me: “Chickies? And what do they do?
MH: “They follow Bob around all day, of course. One is pink and one is blue. Well…that’s what he tells me.”
MH in her crib at 3:00 a.m.: “Daaaaaaaaady! Daaaad?!”
Dad: “What is it? Why are you awake?”
MH: “Bob woke me up because Green Monkey (who is not invisible) was making scary noises like the Big Bad Robot and Bob was scared.”
Dad: “Sorry. Is he OK now?”
MH: “Yes. Also, I have to tinkle.”