When I was a much younger man, I had blond hair. Now my hair is one part dark, one part gray, and one part gone – these parts are neither equal nor listed in decreasing order. In my young, blond days, I would sometimes let my hair grow long. It would get very curly on the ends. Historically astute friends compared my locks to those of Lt. Col. (a.k.a. General) Custer.
During one of my Custer periods, I worked with a Native American woman. My historical doppelgänger notwithstanding, we got along well. She made dream catchers and one day she presented me with a very attractive dream catcher as a gift.
If there were any irony in this hand-made Native American craft being given to the look-a-like of General Yellow Hair, it did not stop me from accepting the gift. To this day, it hangs over my bed.
It works pretty well at catching bad dreams. Unfortunately, it does nothing to stop children from coming to me in the night. What I really need in my room is a kid catcher.
The other night, Big Brother woke us up to announce that he’d had a bad dream. I know he has his eye on my dream catcher, but he’s not getting it. I earned that dream catcher by proving that all guys who look like Custer aren’t jerks to Native Americans.
I was too tired to endure him climbing over me, so I moved over and let him sleep on the edge. That’s when I remembered how much I hate the middle. There was no hope of rest between two such interpretive sleepers as my six-year-old and my wife.
I was saved from this spot by the silhouette of Buster, back-lit by the hall night light, standing still in the doorway. Whether he’d had a bad dream, or was merely plagued by too many toddler worries on his mind, he did not say.
As Big Brother gets less creepy about coming into our room in the night, Buster picks up the slack. Buster silently hovers in the doorway, a mini shadow of the human form. The mere vibe of it, spurs everyone to full wakefulness.
Since there was no room for a fourth in our bed, Mommy got a brilliant idea. Both kids should sleep in Big Brother’s bed and keep each other company. “Would you like to sleep in Big Brother’s bed?” she asked Buster.
“No,” he replied. “Sleep with Daddy.”
Her great idea wasn’t a total flop. She somehow used the momentum of it to get Big Brother back into his own bed, even without the company of Buster.
But that still left us with an extra human in our bed. Buster tossed and turned as he thought his deep thoughts, and so did I, even though my thoughts were comparatively shallow.
We do have a kid catcher in our room after all. Mommy and Daddy have always called it by the wrong name: our bed.