In 1984, we had an intruder in our house…more specifically in our bedroom…and I was bound and determined to catch this little rascal in the act.
You see, Maria and I are both heavy sleepers and once we close our eyes, we’re out within a minute. But each morning…schmack dab right in the middle of our bed…was the little twerp, Zach.
About as soon as he could walk, Zach somehow managed to climb out of his crib each night. We didn’t know how he’d do it. We’d put him to bed in his crib and the next morning there Zach would be in the middle of us…in our bed sleeping on his back, one leg draped over mom, one leg draped over dad. Every morning! He managed to somehow crawl into bed without us knowing.
Not that we minded all that much. We’ve always been an affectionate family and when it came to Zach…Maria and I couldn’t give or get enough physical affection. Kissing, cuddling, and tickling were part of our daily routine.
But I still wanted to figure out how Zach managed to get out of his crib and make it into our bed like a thief in the night.
So one night, I was determined to catch him in the act. After turning out the lights, it only took about a half hour…and I heard the sound! The thump of Zach escaping his crib. We had a low to the ground wood framed waterbed, and right after the thump I heard the scrunching sound of Zach running in his diaper. He was headed straight for our bed in the pitch darkness. He knew the way by heart. He didn’t break stride. On the dead run he put his right hand on the wooden bed frame and then his left gently on my shoulder and flipped deftly, silently right in the middle of the two of us. He lay perfectly still for about a minute. Letting the waves of the waterbed come to a rest and making sure that mom and dad were indeed still asleep. He turned over and cuddled up to his mom…he was right where he wanted to be…safe and sound between his security blanket, mom and dad. After he cuddled up to Maria, I turned over and whispered, “you little twerp”. He was caught! He started giggling and I could not resist my little guy, we tickled and cuddled and laughed. I let him stay in bed with us because I knew that’s where he wanted to be.
It continued that way for a couple of years. He didn’t have to sneak into bed with us most nights, we just let him sleep between us. We all loved it! We also didn’t want Zach breaking his neck by climbing out of his crib each night.
But it wasn’t long before Maria and I became more strict. We told him he was a “big boy” now and he needed to sleep in his own big boy bed.
About once a week he’d beg “Please, can’t I sleep with you guys?” Once in a while we’d relent and let him sleep with us. Sometimes Maria would make up a little bed for him on the floor next to us and that made him just as happy being there with mom and dad. But usually the answer was “no” you need to sleep in your own bed tonight.
Even in his elementary school years, Zach would climb into bed between us, usually on a Saturday or Sunday morning when we didn’t have to get up so early. And there we were, just the three of us cuddling and kissing, laughing and loving, just like when Zach was only one year old.
The three of us love to go on vacations together, we always have such a good time with each other. We never get separate hotel rooms, always two beds, mom and dad in one, Zach in the other. Usually, Maria will crawl into Zach’s bed at some point and cuddle with her little guy for a couple of minutes. They still have that special bond between them.
I just might make the suggestion on our next vacation that we get a king size bed and relive old times…the three of us together…Zach in the middle. He’ll probably roll his eyes at my suggestion and say, “Dad, you’re getting a little weird on us now.” But he might say yes, I think it would really be fun.
Medical/Personal Update: As you can tell, we’re an affectionate family…and in the last two months our affection and love for each other has grown to heights I didn’t think were possible. More than anything, we’re overlooking each others faults and focusing on how much we appreciate one another.
In my view, Americans are becoming a much more affectionate people…and I think that is a great thing. We hug more, tell each other “I love you” more and it’s not just within families…young people are much more affectionate with their friends than when I was growing up.
One of the most powerful forces in the world is “unconditional love.” I always try to encourage young couples to never hold back in their unconditional love for their children. You won’t agree with everything they do, but when your kids know that they are loved no matter what, you will give them the foundation to grow into happy and successful adults.
Hugs, kisses, and saying I love you…bonds that cannot be broken.
Next Stop: Benched by God