Upsetting
Thursday, October 03, 2002
 
I could tell that little Ella was confused when her mom and I were talking about how we slept last night. She was in the kitchen, a coloring book tucked under her arm, rubbing her face still puffy from sleep.
“It looks like someone slept well last night,” her mom said, taking our daughter into her arms and kissing her about the face.
The girl giggled and pushed into Grace’s shirt, one she would have to change before going to work.
“Mama,” Ella said. “Why do you and Daddy always say ‘How did you sleep?’”

Grace asked if she was curious because little girls always sleep well, sleep the whole night through without worry.
“I d’know,” the child said, a bit unsure. “I just wanted to know.”

Because, I thought, sleep for adults is not the given that it is for children. I wanted to tell our daughter that sleep for adults is harder to come by because with each day that passes we lose a little more of the innocence and naiveté that allowed us to embody the cliché slept like a baby.
We know about people who like to torture and lie and take advantage of the unknowing. The manipulators and their horrors prey on our night mind, and we can’t really go to sleep because we must remain vigilant to protect you, dear Ella.
The more we know, the more uncomfortable we become, my princess.

Grace tells Ella that it’s a game between Mama and Daddy. We like to see who can sleep the best, she tells the child. At the end of the contest, the winner gets a prize.
Ella’s face brightens.

“Who’s winning?” She asks excitedly.

Grace gives me a look that’s more statement than question.
“It’s tied, sweetie,” she says. “We’re all tied right now.”
 
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