Things that go BUMP in the Night!
Jane Daffron, Barbara Paul, and Linda Delaney
He awoke to a dimly lit room with soft melodic music surrounding him and his favorite stuffed animal within arm’s reach. Shadows played silently with each other on the gaily-painted walls. Can't sleep. Want Poppa. Want Momma. Sitting up and rubbing his eyes with his tiny hands, he then climbed out of the big, tall bed and sat down on the carpeted floor.
Picking up one of his small toy boats, he started to imagine he was in the middle of a terrible storm and his boat was being thrown all about. After a few minutes of that, he ventured over to his toy chest and opened the lid, removing a toy train. As he grabbed for the controls, he watched the brightly colored angelfish swim through the dim light in the small aquarium high out of his reach. He again sat down on the floor and started to play with his remote control train, having it dart in and out and between the multitude of toys scattered all over the floor.
After a matter of several minutes, four-year old Sean Pearce Nelson became bored and suddenly decided that he needed his Poppa in the room with him to build a giant octopus or some such monster that his poppa studied in his laboratory. So, taking his stuffed whale by the fin and quietly opening the door, he looked up and down the hall. One way was his big sister's bedroom. ‘Taitie’s not home’… The other...his parents. Door's closed. I want Poppa to help me. Softly, he walked down the hall to his parent’s room. As he tried to turn the doorknob, he found that it wouldn’t move. Locked. Why would Poppa and Momma lock the door?
Putting his little ear to the door he heard soft voices, soft laughter, and some strange movements of the bed and covers. Momma and Poppa?? They’re playing!!! Without me!!! Want to play!!!! His little hand again tried the door but it wouldn't turn.
"Poppa... Momma ... Want to play! Want to play now!!!!!" he called out stridently as he tried the door again to no avail. He began to cry and called to them again. "Poppa!!! Momma!!!"
Sean could now hear louder movements inside the room. Finally, the door opened and Karen Nelson, wearing a light silk burgundy bathrobe and looking more than a bit perturbed, glared sternly down at her little boy. However, once she saw the tears on her son’s cheeks, her expression changed instantly into one of motherly concern and she gathered him up into her arms to soothe him.
"What is it, Sean?" she said as she gave him a hug and brought him into the bedroom. "Bad dreams, honey?"
He shook his head. "Momma, you and Poppa were playing!! I want to play, too!" Big tears fell from his young eyes.
Admiral Harriman Nelson looked at his son nestled in his wife’s arms and he couldn't bring himself to be angry with the little boy. The tears seemed to melt away any anger he felt over having their romantic interlude interrupted as Karen sat down on the bed and laid the child between them. The boy then sprang up, wide-eyed, and threw his arms around his father’s neck, almost knocking him backward against the pillows.
"Poppa! I want to play! Come play with me?" the little red-haired child squealed with delight.
Harry was at a total loss for words. It was 0100 and he had just been disturbed while in the romantic grasp of his wife. If this had been anyone else… Now he looked straight into the bright sparkling blue eyes of his four-year-old son. Gently he held the child and sat him down on his lap. "Sean, it’s very late and you need to be asleep," he calmly but firmly told the child.
"Poppa, I want to play. Will you play? You and Momma were playing...I heard you!"
Nelson looked pleadingly to his wife for assistance. He couldn’t very well rise from the bed in the state he was currently in. Karen, at least, had the forethought to grab a robe and put it around her before she opened the door. He only had the bedcovers thrown over him.
"Sean, as I said," more firmly in tone this time but gently, "it’s late, young man, and you should be asleep. Now let Momma take you back to bed."
"But Poppa . . ."
"No ‘buts’, Sean. Now...back to bed with you," Harriman lightly nudged the child toward his mother, then said as an afterthought, "Tell you what, though. You go with Momma and get tucked in and then I’ll come in and tell you a short story. How’s that?"
Sean’s steel blue eyes, identical to his father’s, lit up and a smile graced his young toddler face.
"Yes, yes, Poppa." He threw himself onto his father and hugged tightly. Then before he released his hold on Nelson, the youngster whispered, "I love you, Poppa." Sean then climbed over into his mother’s waiting arms and happily hugged her. "Let’s go, Momma. Poppa’s going to read me a story."
When they had left, he got up and put his pajamas back on, then walked down the hall and into Sean's room where he found him in his bed, all tucked in and ready for his story. Harry sat down in an oak rocker near the bed and opened one of Sean's favorite storybooks, Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, then began to read it to him. Karen went over to him, bent down and gave him a soft kiss, then whispered lovingly in his ear, "I'll be waiting for you."
He nodded and smiled thoughtfully as he continued reading the story, his wonderful resonant voice starting to lull the child to sleep…………..
c c c c
Time passed and Karen began to wonder what was taking him so long. Looking over at the clock on her nightstand, it read 0145. Surely he had finished the story by now. She put down her reading, got up, and walked softly to the child’s bedroom where she peered in to find an angelic scene before her. Sean was nestled in his father’s lap sound asleep. Harry's arm supported the child and his head was cocked back against the back of the rocking chair; his eyes were closed and he was snoring ever so slightly. She stood there...staring at the scene before her, burning it into her memory. The great Admiral Harriman Nelson, world famous scientist, the pillar of strength, leadership and courage... brought to his knees by his son's tears. She had seen the look on his face before he had seen the child’s tears and watched it change within milliseconds when he had witnessed them. Now here he was sound asleep in the chair with his son in his arms.
Harriman, you’re nothing but a big teddy bear inside, you know that? Maybe that’s why I love you so much.
She quietly walked over to him, gently picked Sean up, and put him back into his bed, covering him up with his favorite blanket. Then she turned and looked at her husband, sleeping peacefully in the chair. Not having the heart to wake him, she instead took a coverlet from the closet and placed it gently across him. Kissing him lightly on the forehead, she went back to their bed, knowing that when Harry woke he would join her.
c c c c
A short while later, Harriman Nelson woke with a start as the book fell to the floor. He looked around the dimly lit room, at first unsure of where he was. Then, recognition of the place came, and with it the bittersweet realization that he and his son had fallen asleep in the rocking chair and Karen must have taken the child and put him in his bed. Nelson stood and stretched his muscles, stiff from the prolonged still position and the rigidness of the chair, and went over to check on his sleeping son. He pulled the coverlet back over the child and gently kissed him. Then after quietly closing the door, he padded down the hall to his own bed, and his waiting wife, hopefully to return to what their son had interrupted…
Illustration of Sean Nelson is courtesy of Bobbie Boeve.
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