I went upstairs to look at the children.
First the boy. He's 6 and wants to grow up NOW. He's sleeping hard, worn out after 13 hours of non-stop activity. He's had bed hair all day, and now it's even beddier after sleeping on it still damp from the bath. He's lying on his side, high up in his cabin bed like an infant king. One skinny leg with scabby knees is out and over the blue monster duvet. His free arm hugs the cub that's been his smelly bed-mate since he was born, and he holds on tight to the last surviving scrap of baby-blanket. His lovely full lips are open, drooling a bit on the pillow, doing that pretend sucking thing that he does in his sleep. Perhaps he's dreaming of the warm, snoozy baby milk years.
Next the girl. She's 8, and veers from toddler to teenager and back again. Her beddy teddy is lying on her chest, watching me through the dark with round black eyes, protecting her while she sleeps. She lies on her back, arms thrown wide in pink nightie, on pink pillow, under pink duvet. She was swept away by an enormous yawn as she settled down, insisting "I'm not tired" as her eyes closed. Her face is round like the moon, picture perfect with wide-apart eyes and long, long lashes. As a baby, she turned her head from side to side as she stirred in her sleep, and she still does sometimes. With a murmur and a sigh, she dreams of fairies and kittens and Daddy coming home.
They seem so grown up sometimes and so young when they're asleep. Sometimes I'm afraid to go to bed; I sleep so heavily and I don't want to leave them alone - even if they are just down the hall. I wonder how much of our quirky little life in 2008 they'll remember when they're big. In their slumber, some of it is being filed into their brains' long term memory, some into short term memory, and some is going straight to the shredder.