It was just like one of those horrible Lifetime movies my wife makes me watch with her on Sunday afternoons when we could be viewing something culturally redeeming, like football.
I was just about to step into the shower before work when my wife opened the bathroom door and asked, “Where’s the baby?” He’s still the baby at two and a half.
I scanned the tight quarters of our bathroom. “He’s not in here.”
“He’s not in his bed,” she said. She smiled when she said this, because Big Man has been known to wake up early and go downstairs to start his day without telling anybody.
She went out and I turned on the water. Big Man was surely downstairs getting his crayons out, setting up to draw on some important papers or maybe the living room wall.
Something made me stop. I went out, meeting my wife coming up the stairs. “I can’t find him downstairs,” she said.
We went into the boys’ room. The blinds were down so it was still pretty dark. We could see enough to recognize Buster, sleeping peacefully in his bed. Big Brother was all knotted up in his blankets. Big Man’s bed was empty.
We went downstairs and began turning on lights. The illumination revealed my total nakedness (don’t dwell on this image; your mind’s eye might go blind) but no sign of Big Man. Maybe he was in the pantry, foraging some breakfast. Nope. He might be under the dining room table, concocting breakfast from escaped bits of last night’s dinner. Nope. There was no sign of him downstairs.
“All the doors are locked,” my wife reassured me. Neither of us was smiling anymore. I’m sure she was recalling the same news reports I was of children being stolen at night, right out from under their parents’ noses. We’d viewed these reports with skepticism, until now.
A search of the guest room revealed nothing, except that my heart was beginning to beat faster. I returned to the boys’ room and turned on the light, no longer concerned with disturbing anyone’s sleep. Big Man’s bed was still empty, but in the light I saw what I’d missed before.
From behind the skirt, hanging down below his bed, protruded one toddler-sized foot. I lifted the skirt and there he was, zonked out like a happy little fugitive, underneath his bed.
My heart rate slowed as I took my shower. When I got out my wife reported that our roving sleeper had found his way back to the top side of his mattress.
As I was getting dressed, he sauntered into our room. We asked him where he’d been. He trotted back into his room and pointed under his bed, as if that were the most normal place to be.
We asked him why he was sleeping under his bed. “Wawee under there,” he replied. Wawee is what he calls Buster.
Typical boy. Blame it on your brother.