Wednesday, May 18, 2022

A Delightful Experience

Recently, I rediscovered a wonderful sensation: having a small child fall asleep in your arms. It’s been more than three decades, back when my kids were little, since I experienced how lovely that is.

My wife and I were babysitting our grandson, and he was over-tired and not pleased by the fact my daughter, his mom, was out running an errand. So he did what I always feel like doing whenever I am over-tired and not pleased: he had a meltdown. (By the way, I don’t actually have meltdowns when I’m over-tired and not pleased. I certainly have the strong urge to scream and cry and throw myself on the floor flailing. But I don’t actually do it — mostly because at my age I may not be able to get up off the floor.)
Picking him up off the floor was a challenge, partly because of the flailing, and partly because he’s getting heavier, at almost two years old, while my back is getting weaker, at almost two times 33 years old. I held him in my arms and started singing gentle lullabies to him. 

After a while, my wife mentioned that Springsteen’s “Rosalita” may not be the best song to calm him down. So I switched to a children’s song I remembered from the early ‘90s, Raffi’s “Baby Beluga.” The best thing about singing to a two-year-old is that it’s fine even if you don’t know the words. I sang, “Ba-by Be-lu-ga. Ba-by Be-lu-ga. La la la, la-la. Doo doo doo, doo-doo. Cha-cha, cha, cha, cha,” and it calmed him right down.

I went into his bedroom and sat on a rocking chair, cradling the child against my chest. My wife dimmed the lights and put a blanket over the both of us. I sat there rocking gently and humming quietly. Within a few minutes, I was sould asleep. 

No, wait. My grandson was sound asleep. But to be honest, I was kind of dozing off, too.
It was so delightful having that little guy sleeping in my arms. After a while, when we knew he definitely was asleep, my wife asked, “Do you want to try to put him in the crib?” I replied, “Nope. I don’t want to move. I don’t want this feeling to end.”

For the next three days, I had a big smile on my face, remembering how wonderful it was to have him fall asleep on me.

However, having someone fall asleep on you isn’t always wonderful. I’m reminded of the time I flew home from Chicago a few years ago. It was evening, and I was tired. But I’ve never, ever been able to fall asleep on a plane. At best, I’ll get close to a brief doze, but not quite. 

Well, I was sitting there on the aisle seat with my eyes closed, trying to will my brain into a state of slumber, when I felt a weird sensation on my right shoulder. I opened one eye and looked over. The guy in the middle seat, who obviously had no problem sleeping on a plane, had his head against my shoulder, and it was slowly sliding down onto my chest. Over the roar of the engines, I could hear his slow and deep breathing, on the verge of snoring.

Luckily, before we reached the point where we were officially going steady, he mumbled briefly, shifted in his seat, and leaned in the opposite direction to start a poignant bonding experience with the fellow in the window seat.

Anyway, having someone fall asleep in your arms is delightful. In my experience, small children work the best. But in a pinch, I suppose a businessman flying home from Chicago will do. 

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