From last November.
I’d love to procure a couple of matching straitjackets, one for Calvin and one for me. I like the utilitarian look with all of those cool buckles, belts and grommets, not to mention their purpose: restraint. I envision mine in a buff Irish linen double-cloth while opting for a clean white toothy canvas for Calvin. Perhaps one day we'll transform Calvin's room into a padded cell, which we'll of course share in our mutual insanity.
Again, I wake up to the jarring sound of Calvin’s head banging against the safety panel on his bed. Though it’s padded it unleashes a sickening thump-rattle unnerving enough to jolt me out of my skin and shed bits of delicately grey-streaked brown hair that commingles nicely with Rudy’s, which happens to be everywhere. And though it’s my greatest dream to hurl the frigging baby monitor across the room and stomp on it, I can’t even turn the bloody volume down because I need to hear if Calvin has a seizure.
I repositioned him almost every hour during the night and at 4:30 a.m.—his new normal wake-up time—I've got the sleep deprived hangover of a physics student whose just pulled an all-nighter scarfing cans of Red Bull, bags of chips and hand fulls of M&M's. Finally relenting to the mind-rattling ruckus, I fetch him and bring him into bed with me. Michael is away, no doubt sleeping in late after a blissful, uninterrupted night. What with Calvin’s flailing arms smacking my face, his fist a perfect mate for my eye socket, I put him into what we call a “mama-lock”—my leg over his legs with a firm hold on his arms in an effort to calm his mania so we can both go back to sleep. Often, it works, both for sleep and for averting a black eye or a bloody nose (mine.)
As I hold his hand under the covers he begins to settle, and I think about how big and strong he is getting. I muse on the straitjacket. As my mind ambles toward sleep I remember something my parents told me, about how they struggled with my brother’s thumb sucking, feared he would ruin his bite and have to get braces that they couldn’t afford. They told me they had put hot pepper (or was it hot sauce?) on his thumb, but to no avail. Instead, they tied his hands to the bed frame so he couldn’t reach thumb to mouth. I shudder at the memory of their description. My stomach sours imagining my brother as a helpless little tot simply wanting—needing—the self-soothing we now know is so important to a child’s healthy development, while at the same time understanding my parents' worry. Heartache.
My sweet boy’s breath fans my face as he drifts off to sleep. I let him loose from the mama-lock and drape my hand across his shoulder, kiss his forehead. No matter how insane this household gets hopefully there will be no straitjackets. I’ll leave that one open for interpretation by the next new fashion-crazed designers. Straitjackets, padded leather truckers and Kevlar jeans. Perhaps already been done.