I like to watch my children sleep. In the quiet hours around midnight, I like to slide open their door and poke my head inside. I inhale the sweet, deliciously heavy smell of sleep…a blanket over their sprawling forms. Peace. The only nightmares to cross this threshold are shaped like Wild Things and abnormally large insects. In this room, the monsters don’t come shaped like envelopes stamped with Final Notice, or police officers at your front door. In here the terrors are fought with tiny flickering night lights that chase away the darkness. Their breath is even, their shoulders relaxed. They don’t carry the weight of the world in dreamland. On a nightstand in the corner, a small and unobtrusive clock is ticking away the seconds of their childhoods, gently pulling them from slumber.
In the morning they will wake and put on their fantasies of when-I-grow-ups, begging and pleading with that clock to tick the seconds a little faster because they just can’t wait. But I can wait. Please, clock, can’t we wait. Can I give them more time in this realm of careless dreaming and relaxed shoulders? How can I keep them from nightmares of Final Notices and Bad News? We can cope with the fear of spiders but what comes next? Some day they will watch their own children sleep. I don’t know where I will be on that day, but for my son and my daughter there will come a midnight where they witness the simple nighttime existence of their own darlings and beg a ticking clock for more time, because before they knew it, the when-I-grow-ups came.