I recently went to Georgia with some friends of mine. They were going to visit family and I had never been to Georgia so I said "I'm down. Let's go!"
It also didn't hurt them to have an extra man on defense as they were driving from Dallas to North Georgia with 2 children under the age of 5. Another added bonus other than the pleasure of my company, was that the kids love me. And what's not to love???
So we left one stormy Friday evening after we'd all gotten home from work. There was a lot of crap to load and even though we were all in a mad dash of efficiency and team work, we still ended up leaving about 3 hours later than planned. This put us at crossing the Mighty Mississippi at approximately 2:45 in the AM. Because it would have been mass suicide to continue on, we stopped at a hotel for the remainder of the night/morning.
I ended up sharing a bed with their 4 year old daughter, who was very excited about being in a new place and didn't quite grasp that even though she had been asleep for a while, it was not actually time to be awake. I climbed into bed and as soon as my head hit the pillow my cramped neck muscles started to relax and my heavy eye lids slid shut. Sleep, sweet sleep was on it's way.
"Um...Miss Jenni?" The tiny whisper sent my eyelids flying open.
"You can sleep with Pink Puppy. Ok?"
A small stuffed dog was shoved into my arm pit. I waited as the little girl re-situated herself on her side of the bed and after 30 seconds of wonderful silence I gently closed my eyes. I was so excited for sleep I almost giggled.
"Go to sleep!" her father said from across the room. "It's not time for talking. It's time for sleeping. Leave Miss Jenni alone."
A tiny hand began to softly stroke my forehead. I raised an eyebrow. Physical touch is not my favorite part of life, especially when I'm trying to sleep.
"It's ok Miss Jenni." Soothed the little girl. "Daddy will make it all better."
I couldn't help but laugh. Delerium had set in.
"No more talking!" Said her mother. "You can play with Miss Jenni in the morning. Everyone needs to go to sleep."
I regained my composure and everything was silent again. I laid there wide-eyed waiting for something else to happen. But nothing did. I waited another 5 minutes...no sound, no movement. Finally. I smiled and closed my eyes.
"Noooo!" I moaned.
"The animals are nice."
"Go to sleep!"
The next morning I ate grits for the very first time at a breakfast buffet that included fried chicken right next to the bacon. We finally got to our destination later that afternoon, where I was introduced to all the dogs and got to watch everyone enjoy a second Christmas. It was all very relaxing and warm. Bed time rolled around soon, and the aforementioned little girl was not too keen on sleeping all by herself in such a big, unfamiliar house.
"Would you mind sharing a bed with her again?" Her mother asked apologetically. "She said she's afraid to sleep by herself...."
Of course I didn't mind. These people were like family to me, and I'm always trying to be helpful. Besides, I figured by the time I went to bed the little girl would already be asleep.
I was wrong.
She was wide awake when I pulled back the covers. I pushed her small menagerie of stuffed animals aside and climbed in next to her. I told her we had to be quiet and go to sleep. She seemed fine with this and laid down. I reached over and turned off the lamp, hoping that tonight would be easier than the night before.
"Um...Miss Jenni? I can't find her head."
"W. T. F."
I rolled over to her, completely thrown off by that statement. All I could think of was that horse scene from The Godfather. You know the one.
What I saw instead was the body of a small porcelain doll, with a sharp metal rod sticking straight out of from between it's shoulders like a spine. Unsettling is an understatment. I sat up, blinking at the horrid little thing.
"Will you help me find her head?"
"Um...this is weird. Why don't we wait til morning when there's light and we can see?"
"Oh! Haha, I found it. Will you put it back on for me?"
I put the creepy doll head back on it's metal neck stick and handed it back. What...an event.
The rest of the week wasn't quite as disturbing, but I hardly got any sleep. This child did not stop moving. She tossed, she turned, she snuggled, she kicked - a lot. One night her hand hit my in the side of the head and work me up. I reached up to move her hand away only to realize that it wasn't a hand at all. It was a foot. I sat up to find the girl with her feet on the pillow and her head down by my knees, sound asleep. As I didn't want to get kicked again, I picked her up and turned her around. Amazingly, she stayed dead asleep the entire time.
Here's an interesting fact about 4 year olds: They do not experience jet lag. This kid woke up at 6:00 am every morning, just like at home. Which meant I felt like it was 5. AM. And when I say she woke up this is what I mean...
Popping straight up out of bed like something from The Exorcist declaring with glee, "I'm awake!"
"Great...go see Nanna and Papa."
Even though I had no sleep, I also had no shortage of entertainment. I had a fabulous time in ATL and got to go shopping at a real Piggly Wiggly (they didn't have anything we needed, but I got a shirt out of it). I even saw someone driving their 4Runner with their foot hanging out the window. It was a wonderful time with wonderful people and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Though I might think twice before sleeping with a 4 year old again...
Thanks for reading! =)