Last night when I came to bed, instead of the soft even sound of Deirdre’s sleep breathing, I was greeted by a tiny muffled voice: "Who’s dat?"
Lots of times I be silly and make her figure it out for herself: "Hmm, who is it? I’m probably Titi, right?" to which she says "No, you’re Cadie." But this time I just said,
"It’s me, Cadie. I’m coming to bed."
The muffled quality of her voice was due to the fact that Deirdre always pulls the blankets up over her face when she goes to bed. I asked her once why she always did that, and she said, "To keep the bad dreams away." (I told her it wouldn’t do that, but that didn’t stop her.) She occasionally has bad dreams–but not only that, she is a girl with a very active imagination, so every dark shadow and shape becomes something potentially sinister. Titi and I wish she wouldn’t try to mummify herself, but at least it hopefully helps her be less scared. When Mom puts her to bed, it is standard protocol for Deirdre to tell say, "Tell, Titi, and Cadie, to come up very soon!" However, she’s normally asleep within 5 minutes, so it doesn’t make much difference.
This time, though, either she’d been having a hard time getting to sleep or Mom had put her to bed really late. The humidifier was running full blast, and the CD that Deirdre always has playing when she goes to bed, Silly Songs, was competing with that to be be heard, so when she said something I had to bend down and say "What, Deirdre?"
"Now that you’re up here, I can leave it open."
"Leave what open?" I asked. "Oh, your blankets?" I noticed her voice was more clear now.
"Yeah. And, um, uh–" I knew what she was going to say next: "–tell Titi, tell her she should come up soon."
Feeling secure isn’t the only reason she likes to have Titi and I up there. We’re also somebody she can talk to, which is more fun than going to sleep. She piped up again several more times after that, each time sounding like she was saying something simply because I was in the room for her to say something to.
Things such as, "I can see the stars out my window. Sometimes I can see airplanes going by, in the morning!"
Or, "It seems like this CD will never end." Since she usually falls asleep before it gets very far, it seemed like it was going on for a long, long time to her.
And, "I just love that song." (It was "Winkum, Winkum" in case you’re wondering.)
And then, as if she had run out of other things to say, "Hi, Cadie."
Helloo–we’ve both been lying in our beds for awhile now, and now you suddenly feel a need to say hi? I replied, "Oh, well that’s all very nice, but how ’bout instead we say goodnight and stop saying anything?" I really didn’t mind her talking at that point, especially since it was a nice change from everything being "Titi, this" and "Titi, that" at night. But I didn’t want to encourage her.
She said "what?" and we both kept saying what to each other for awhile until I turned off the CD player so we could hear better. "Now, what did you say, Deirdre?"
"I said–I just said, I didn’t hear what you said, after that, before–after that," she said, having a bit of a hard time getting out what she meant. "Oh. I just said–" Now I was the one who felt tongue-tied. This happens to me frequently, but I thought it was funny that I should be so awkward talking to my 3-year old sister. "I just said, it was nice…I mean…it was nice of you to say–(just skip to the point, I told myself)–I mean, just say goodnight instead, and then we’ll stop talking!"
So we both said goodnight, and stopped talking.
* * *
At one point I went downstairs to check the barometric pressure, because I have been trying to record that every night and when Deirdre mentioned the stars, it reminded me that I forgot to. Before I went downstairs, Deirdre told me, "While you’re at it, tell Titi, soon she have to come up!"
I dashed downstairs, glanced at the symbol on our min-max thermometer that shows whether the air pressure is rising or falling (Lachlan, who was juggling with Titi at the time, saw me and said, "Gosh, she needs minute-by-minute updates!") and delivered the message to Titi. When I was back upstairs, I told Deirdre, "I told Titi what you told me to tell her. And you know what she said? She said, ‘Tell Deirdre I said, ‘Bwa-ha-ha!’" I laughed, and said, "What do you say to that?"
"Tell her, TOO bad, you have to come up anyway!!" she said. I knew she would be undaunted.