Sometimes the sleep is just the hardest thing in the world. The cycle starts after tea time, I can feel the adrenaline pumping, the anxiety creeping in, the knowing that you are going to fight this, that you hate the delicious, sweet experience of slumber and that you will do anything to try to prolong its inevitableness. I walk the bowl and spoon (so little and plastic in bright colours) into the kitchen to leave on the bench. I will later return to put the scraps into the compost and the utensils into the dishwasher, but for now they lay obsolete, cold and lonely on the bench top. You chatter away in the chair, seemingly relaxed after your bath with dad where you played and gurgled, splashing wildly and freely like a bird in a puddle.
I creep slowly back to the chair and reach to unbuckle the clasp that is holding you to its hard plastic base. I did not bother to put the tray on the seat this time as I am still in control of feeding you as you have shown no interest in self-feeding, so there is little mess. We even did away with the bibs months ago, deciding that they were cumbersome as you always would just rip them from around your throat before we even had the first mouthful of food on the spoon. I swiftly collect you from the seat as you let out a delightful giggle, and start t make our way down the short, narrow hallway and toward your bedroom. We reach the door, adorned with the poster I made you a few weeks ago at Play Up at Old Parliament House, the white lettering spells out your name in contrast to the dark blue background. Now I think, did I choose those colours unconsciously because you are a boy? Who can know.
You arch your back and see that we are entering your room, and you immediately begin to squirm. My hands instinctively grasp tighter as I try to ensure that you do not drop out them and onto the ground. I gently reassure you with some shushing and rocking and you quieten. I grapple to find your pacifier in the bed amongst the bed sheets and gently pop it into your mouth. Shush, shush.
But this is when it begins, for you do not shush, instead open your mouth wide to let the dummy escape and you begin to release this scream, this screech that reaches decibels that only my heart can hear. And my stomach turns as I know, I realise, I remember that the night is long and your cries will only intensify.