Sally has become unaffectionately known as The Insomniac. She’s never been a bad sleeper exactly, just a delicate one. As a baby, she didn’t sleep in the car or the stroller. She needed the right blankets in bed. But these days it seems worse: the temperature must be just so, the dream catcher must be mystically turned on. If she sleeps for 20 minutes and wakes, she’s done. Even if that’s at 9:00 at night and you are so tired you flirt with the idea of giving her booze to knock her out.
But at age 4, this delicate sensibility mostly manifests itself in her having trouble falling asleep. Many a night have I lay on her pergo bedroom floor, bruising my hips and trying to catch a cat nap as she browses the entire collection of Disney Fairy novels until she’s tired enough to sleep. She hates being alone when she can’t sleep. And she’s fidgety. She might have restless leg syndrome. I come up with a lot of theories when I’m stuck in her room as she tosses and turns. But eventually, she DOES fall asleep. And then I have to get out. Without. Disturbing. A Single. Solitary. Molecule.
Since I now have spent as much time escaping the clutch of my child as doctors spend in medical school, I have developed some expertise. Here are my tips for How to Exit A Child’s Room Without Waking Her:
* Get to the floor: Hopefully you started on the floor. Because if you are in her bed, you must first disentangle. If this is the case, make your breathing very shallow and lift your head and any limbs that are free so that as much mattress as possible is absent of your weight. You are now basically levitating as much as humanly possible without involving a ouija board. Stay like that until she moves some part of her body. (This could be difficult since your ab muscles likely came out with your placenta a few years ago.) When she shifts, you slither off the bed. Try not to make noise as you hit the floor.
**If she wakes: Tell her you were just getting a pillow and try to assume a position that makes it impossible for her to put you in a headlock, because if she does that, you’re spending the night with sour milk breath in your face.
* Freeze: Once you’ve gotten off the bed, stay exactly where you are for at least 30 seconds to allow any disruption you have caused to pass and her breathing to even out again. Slowly stand. Hopefully you’ve spent some time with your body and know which joints crack. If you are me and sound like a freaking microwave bag of Orville Redenbacher, just try to time movements with creaks in the house or the heater clicking on. Be prepared to freeze in place at any moment as you approach the door. Step toe-to-heel, à la cartoon bank robber.
**If she wakes: You were getting a blanket. Return to floor.
*Open the door: SLOWLY. Do not let any animals run in, or you’ll end up mouthing curse words at them while they stare blankly at you from across the room, and that’s a bit depressing.
**If she wakes: The kitties wanted to say goodnight. Return to floor and next time crawl out so you can catch wildlife.
*Close the door: This is often the most difficult task — children have a strange sixth sense that alerts them to your aura moving outside of a protective radius. Damned kids. Turn the door handle completely, until it reaches it’s stopped position. Brace you other hand on the door jam, as it helps to pretend you have control over a load-bearing wall. Moving silently and without producing any breeze, close the door while continuing to hold knob in its turned position. As door meets jam, grimace like an Olympic weight lifter. Hold breath. Pull door firmly closed and hold in pulled position while slowly releasing the knob. Failure to do this will result in the latch clicking, which will sound like a freaking bomb explosion after all this silence and result in your spouse whispering “AMATEUR!” at you with disgust on his face.
*If she wakes: You’re screwed. She knows you were sneaking out. Go brush your teeth and do the walk of shame back to her room, where you will spend the night.