Did I ever tell you about how L is our astronomical phenomenon, our own Black Hole? How she eats all day and eats all night and is crazy-skinny and whenever you ask her a question, any question at all, she answers with I want eat? Did I tell you how all her pants that are perfect in length are set to the skinniest setting on the adjustable waistband, and she still walks around all day hitching them up like a newly imprisoned felon whose belt was just confiscated?
Did I ever tell you how she eats nearly twice as much food as her big sister?
I want eat, Mama.
Daddy! I want eat.
She comes by it honestly, the bad sleeping. I'm a light sleeper. My father could win medals in competitive insomnia. The sleeping thing? L's terrible at it. And whenever she cries out in the middle of the night and one of us goes to check on her, in response to our patient-despite-the-hour concerned query of "what's wrong, love?" do you know what she says?
I want eat.
The lovely husband, he thought he hit on a genius solution to this problem, and I'll give him props that it sounds good on paper. (Sort of like the plan for having three kids in four years: I can tell you all the reasons why that sounds good on paper, though that's another conversation for another day. The problem, we're realizing via our own panicky insomnia, is that even the very best plans have to be executed somehow, and this kind of plan will need to be somehow executed and re-executed every. single. day.) He thought, the lovely husband, "I'll start offering her cheese sticks." They're not messy, they're utensil-free, they're a filling combination of protein and fat, and they require little preparation at 3am. Reasonable, right?
The child now has a full-blown middle-of-the-night cheese stick addiction. I wouldn't even put it past her to say: she might be waking up on purpose, just for the stick.
It often works. She has a few bites and falls back to sleep. Sometimes she eats the whole stick and falls back to sleep. Sometimes she eats the whole stick and says, I 'wake. I want go downstairs now, but we won't talk about that today, either.
Sometimes, she eats a few bites and falls back asleep, the discarded stick drying in the side of her crib to be trashed in the morning. Sometimes, she eats a few bites, throws the remains over her crib rail, and falls back asleep, the oily refuse to be found via bare foot the next day.
I have found half-eaten part-dried cheese sticks all over our house. They're kind of fascinating, in the way the slugs and phlegm are fascinating. You want to poke them, but not with your own finger.
They harden, the air exposed sticks, and darken in color. They seep oil until it forms a transparent cocoon, daring you to make skin contact. I have learned via the scientific method (old, old OLD cheese stick thrown behind the crib, between the aggrieved crib and the innocent wall) that they never, ever mold.
The leftovers -- I have commented that they're disgusting, lovely husband has agreed that they're disgusting -- but they're an easily manageable disgusting and we've decided to ignore that aspect of the Great Cheese Solution.
But did I tell you what happened on Monday night?
On Monday night, L woke. Begged for her fix. Was granted such, as with most nights, at the generous hand of the lovely husband. Ate approximately 12%. Lay down. Fell asleep.
ON TOP OF THE STICK REMAINS.
She nuzzled that stick for several cozy warm hours, until the sun shone and the school bus (that's me) beckoned and said "let's get up! Let's get dressed!" The lovely husband actually dressed her, discarding her 'jamas in the laundry pile and pushing our morning along its nicely chugging schedule.
On Tuesday evening, the lovely husband made passing comment about needing to change L's crib sheet before he took her upstairs to sleep.
On Tuesday later evening, I ran a load of laundry.
Late Tuesday night, when I wanted just to transfer wet clothes to the dryer, press the 'on' button, and go to bed, I discovered the slimy wet cheese curds of long-snuggled stick that had adhered to both her 'jamas and her crib sheet and had now been washed. And shared with the rest of the load. And yet not fully dissolved. At all.
Almost Wednesday morning, the lovely husband and I shared an intimate moment. We hunched together, our bodies close, and scraped wet dried-out cheese off of our laundry.
I didn't run the dryer.
But! He declares with an optimistic mix of conviction and desparation. It was a one-time occurence. If she doesn't eat she will only Wake More UP! It remains, though imperfect, The Great Cheese Solution!
And thus, my epiphany, because Great Cheese 'comes from happy cows.' (If the TV says so, it must be true.) I was wrong earlier. Lovely husband: I love you. But I am not the cow.
You, nighttime-cheese-doler, are the cow.