He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

23 Apr

My boys have fallen into a new sleep routine.  At bedtime, we do all the stuff we always did.  They get their jammies on, use the bathroom, brush their teeth (most days they have a bath earlier in the evening).  For story-time, I sit on my glider chair between their beds – the same glider chair that saw me through countless night-time feedings when my boys were infants.  George gets right into bed, James curls up on my lap, and they each drink their milk while I read a story (current flavour of the day: anything to do with Thomas the Train).  After the story, James gets into his bed, each of them gets sip more milk, and the lights go out.

About five minutes later, we usually see a little face quietly peeking around the corner: George, trying to sneak onto the futon we have in our living room so he can watch TV.  Or maybe he just wants the extra hugs we always give him, because once we’ve hugged him he goes back to bed amenably enough.  At some point during the night, usually fairly early on, he migrates to the sofabed in the playroom, and sleeps there for the rest of the night.

Sometimes I worry about this.  From time to time, when one of the kids is having a hard time, I have to sleep on the sofabed with said kid, and that thing ruins my back.  I always wake up the next morning feeling as if I’ve been tortured by Vikings.  I worry about whether the sofabed is doing to George’s back what it’s doing to mine.  But once he’s there he won’t budge, he sleeps soundly, and he wakes up cheerfully enough.  So maybe he’s OK and I just need to chill out a little instead of finding yet another thing to be perpetually stressed about.

In the meantime, James is sleeping soundly in his own bed.  He’s a little champion at bedtime, James is.  Once the lights are out he goes right to sleep without a fuss.  He usually wakes up in the middle of the night, though – sometime between midnight and three in the morning.  When I found out the reason for his nocturnal awakenings, my heart soared: he gets lonely for his big brother.  He makes his way to the sofabed, climbs in beside George, and goes right back to sleep.  George surfaces just enough to shift to make room for James, then he goes to sleep as well.

I am always the first one in the household to wake up in the mornings.  Some days – like today – I go for an early morning run.  Other days, I like to get dressed, pour out a cup of coffee, and have some me-time at the computer reading emails or playing meaningless games on Facebook.  I love carving out that time for myself in the mornings, before the rest of the world wakes up.

Whatever I am doing – running or playing on the computer – the first thing I always do is check on my boys.  I go to the playroom and watch them sleeping peacefully, each completely at ease with the other’s presence.  They look cosy and comfortable, like a pair of sleepy kittens.  There is always physical contact between the two: James’ hand resting on George’s, or George’s hand lightly touching James’ shoulder.  When I checked on them this morning, George’s arm was flung over James’ shoulders.  It looked big brotherly and protective.

I savour those moments as I watch them and wonder what dreams are going on in those little heads.  Even though they are sleeping, I feel as if I am witnessing a moment of special connection between the two brothers.

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