How to stay up past your bedtime, for dummies.
It came sudden and unexpected from the deep dark north corner of the tv room—a growling sound. A long, drawn out, semi-low¬-pitched rumble-like sound. I think, to narrow it down further, the actual sound was kind of “Gerrrrrrr!”
I have to admit, I leapt to my feet when I first heard it.
There was nothing to see in the corner but the corner window. I pondered this. I had heard the sound plain as day—or in this case, night. As I thought about it, I realized that it sounded all too much like a monster who was about to turn five-years-old and resorting to fear tactics to get out of going to bed. My niece, Katie, was almost five-years-old and she had reappeared in the tv room only minutes after I had tucked her into bed. And now we had monsters? Then I heard the sound my old tape recorder used to make clicking to a stop. The sound came from behind the window curtain in the corner. I was onto something here--Just last week I had given Katie my old tape recorder...
My eyes came back to my niece. “Is that the monster that was in your bedroom?”
Katie, her eyes wide, nodded her head fervently. She then visibly swallowed a great gulp of something, fear perhaps, and tip-toed toward me as she looked back and forth to the corner, obviously fearful the beast would choose now to come out from behind the curtain and rip us all to shreds. Pulling me to stoop lower, she leaned up to my ear and whispered a solemn tooth-pasty, peppermint-laced explanation. “It must have followed me down stairs!”
“Is that so?”
“Yes!” she said and threw her toothpick arms around my neck.
“There, there,” I said, holding her, feeling the birdlike bones in her back.
In a broken voice, she added, “Please, Uncle Pete! Don´t make me go back up there! I’m begging you! I can´t do it again!”
She then took her arms back from their chokehold and stepped away to see how much of all this I was actually buying. The kid was gifted, there was no doubt in my mind, but I wanted to tell the little drama queen that there was such a thing as Over Acting.
“I don´t know, Katie. Your mother will get mad at me if she knew I let you stay up past eight.”
“My mother is your sister!” she said, suddenly aghast at how simpleminded I appeared to be.
“I know that, Katie. I told you that last week when you asked who I was and I said I was your uncle and you said what is that to me and I said--”
“You´re my mother´s brother…”
“Well, for your information, sisters do not get mad at their brothers!” She threw her hands up in the air at the irrationality of it all.
“Look kid, if you believe that, I promise you, you don´t know much about big sisters. They get mad at their poor little brothers all the time!”
“Well, she doesn´t pay you to babysit.”
“Yeah, no, I´ve been meaning to have a word with her about that…”
“Well, what´s she going to do, fire you?”
The kid was good. I looked at her thinking, I am sixteen-years older than this little shit and she´s beating me without mercy.
The little shit was now looking at me even more sternly. Her hands were tight fists digging into the hips of her pink pajamas. They had footies and little blue bunnies too. She looked mean as hell standing there dressed like that!
How can you possibly argue with someone who stands like that dressed like that?
“Okay, Katelin, tell me something; what do you purpose we do to solve this little dilemma?”
She looked at me blankly.
“I mean, how do we play it? We need a plan, Stan!” I snapped my fingers like a jazzman trying to speed up the tempo. “What´s our next move gonna be? You´re not going to leave me hanging in the wind, are you, kid?”
She put her lower lip up over the top one and gave this some thought.
“We wait,” she finally said and gave me a wink like one does when one knows exactly what she´s doing.
“How long do we wait?”
“How long do we wait?” She gave my question some more thought. “Two-oh-thirty should be enough time.” She nodded her head sagely again.
“Two-thirty? In the morning?” It was my turn to look aghast.
“Two-oh-fifteen, two-oh-thirty.” She was flexible on this. “It won´t be much later than that.”
I looked at her without speaking and she made her eyes big and returned my look. “We got to wait until he goes to sleep, you know?”
“We have to wait until who goes to sleep?”
Katie rolled her eyes and her fists went back to her hips. “The monster, duh!”
I could tell my niece was quickly losing the last vestiges of any confidence she once, long ago, might have had in me.
“In that case, I suggest you tell your monster that it needs to go to bed a lot earlier than two-oh-fifteen. I´m not going to be awake at two-oh-fifteen!”
Again, the rolling of her eyes made her feelings on this particular subject all too clear. “It´s a monster, Pete. It doesn’t exactly ask my permission…”
Oh, okay. Now I was Pete. I was Uncle Pete just a moment ago.
I said, “Two-oh-fifteen it is,” and patted the couch. She climbed up with the remote in her hand. The next thing I knew I was watching the Disney Channel all by myself and little Katie the Hun in her bunny outfit was fast asleep beside me.
What time the other monster nodded off, I have no idea.