Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Mystery of the Midnight Crying

            Celia awoke screaming.
            I rushed into her room and picked her up. Her nose has been plugged up, and her throat is starting to get raspy, so she sounded horrible. I held her as she calmed down. We sat together rocking back and forth for awhile, then I asked her, “What’s wrong Sweetie? Why are you crying?”
            She didn’t answer.
            I asked again, “Why are you crying?”
            Silence.
            I easily get frustrated by a non-response, so I tried to calm my temptation to get impatient and instead urged her, “If you don’t tell me what’s wrong, I can’t help you. Tell me why you’re crying.”
            She looked at me, then looked away.
            “Okay,” I said as I gently lifted her back into the crib. “Goodnight.”
            No sooner had I started to walk away when she started to cry again. I went back to her but didn’t pick her up. “You need to tell me what’s wrong,” I said to her.
            “The cat peed in my bed,” Celia replied with tears in her eyes.
            This was, of course, true. And it was part of the reason why she’s been sleeping in her crib again. Maybe Celia was picking up on my anger earlier in the day. Michelle was telling me we might have to throw the mattress away. It frustrates me that suddenly, overnight, the things we’ve worked hard to attain become garbage. Welcome to the world of pets and children.
            I tried to make eye contact with Celia as I said, “Yes, the cat did pee in your bed. But why are you crying?”
            Celia looked away and started to cry again. I said a quick prayer for discernment, one of those one-word prayers that encapsulate about a hundred different emotions and possibilities but simply come out as, “Help.”
            Instantly, I knew that I needed to bring her into our bed for the rest of the night. Which is odd, because she hasn’t slept in our bed with us for a year now. But I’ve learned over the years to trust my first instinct in these kinds of things, so I asked Celia, “Do you want to sleep with Mommy and Daddy?”
            “Yeah,” she replied.
            I lifted her and brought her into our bed. She tossed and turned, but slept pretty well after that. Michelle and I, on the other hand, both had the same thought all night long. Michelle put it into words when she came down in the morning, “We need a king size bed.”
            I nodded my head in agreement. “If we do that again, we most certainly do.” The crick in my neck was speaking to me louder than any of Michelle’s words.
            Now that Celia was awake, I sat her down and looked her in the eye, “Celia, why were you crying so much last night?”
            Celia looked me in the eye and said, “Because I’m little.”
            I laughed. Well, that’s of course true. But I wanted to know more. “Is that the only reason you were crying?”
            “Yeah,” Celia replied as she squirmed out of my arms. Her attention span was gone.
            I suppose the mystery of the midnight crying will remain just that. And perhaps Celia’s second answer really is all I should need. Let’s face it, she’s little. It’s going to happen. So deal with it.

1 comment:

  1. Hi cousin!
    I know that one of the things that frustrates me the most when I'm crying is when people ask me why. Often there's not an answer that I can put into words, and if I'm crying it's hard for me to talk as it is. Being unable to communicate just makes me more frustrated, so I cry harder, and then it's harder to talk and... It's kind of a vicious cycle.

    Friends of mine say that Nature's Miracle saved their son's mattress when the cat peed on it. It might help, since I know how frustrating it can be to throw out a mostly fine mattress.

    -cousin annie

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