I've told you of my supreme fatherly talent for making infants burp. Many men might be content with such a useful, singular skill. They might form a traveling gospel revue, inviting babies of every stripe to be held forth and freed of their insidious gastric bubblage.
But I am also known as Somnambular, Bringer of Sleep. When Robert was small, I was the one who got him to bed most nights, creaking in the rickety heirloom rocking chair my parents gave us. We don't have room for the chair anymore, so I use my new caress-and-lullaby (patent pending) technique on TwoBert. And oh, how it works. My record is 45 seconds, and when that happened I hung out in the room for a while longer, just so I wouldn't rub it in. Because my son will go to sleep for me and not for my wife, and it drives her up a tree.
This is where the wondrous power bites me in the ass.
The other night I was out for some beer and flesh-pressing during TwoBert's bedtime, and when I called in at 9:45 my wife announced that she had spent two and a half (two. point. five.) hours trying to get TwoBert to nod off. Later that night, when I got home, she struggled to an upright position and shot me a skunk eye that scalded my forehead. It appears that I now have a reverse curfew that prevents me from leaving the house until after TwoBert has passed out.
But who am I kidding? I still love it. Getting TwoBert to sleep is usually the highlight of my day. I watch his eyes flicker, and when sleep finally takes him I'll just sit and watch him breathe. It's such a calming experience, the perfect antidote for a stressful day.
I like looking at his beatific face, his wriggling nose, his twitching jimmylegs. If I'm in there long enough, I'll fast-forward mentally to his teenage years, when I might be looking over him just as I do now. I might come into his room some weekend morning, and he'll be out cold above his sheets, headphones in his ears. We'll be in the middle of some My-House-My-Rules vs. You're-Not-The-Boss-of-Me emotional turf war, and he'll have come home way too late, or been somewhere he shouldn't have, just to test his boundaries. I will marvel at him, at the headstrong young man he's becoming, and think back about these special months, back in aught-six, when I was the first person he saw every morning and the last he saw every night.
Then I'll wake his impudent ass up by sticking a clothespin on his nose, just to shore up those boundaries a little.