(post copyright 2017, Dawn Weber)
The Hobo is missing.
I've looked for him everywhere, and checked all the usual spots: the couch, the computer, the refrigerator. He's usually in one of these places engaged in his hobbies of video-gaming, Snap-chatting or eating his weight in chicken wings. But I just can't find the boy.
So I ask the husband, "Where's your son?"
And that's when it happens: the unthinkable. The unfathomable. The unbelievable.
"He's taking a nap."
My heart stops, my stomach thumps. Surely there's been some kind of mistake.
"Yeah, right," I tell him. "That kid doesn't nap. He's never napped."
The Husband glances up from his iPhone, where he's playing his 341st daily round of Panda Pop. "See for yourself."
I'm going to have to do that, because there's no way I believe him. Our son hasn't napped since the early 2000s, and he hasn't willingly taken a nap ever.
I creep slowly, slowly up the stairs to his room.Pausing outside the door, I listen for movement or the telltale Pew-pew-pew! of video games, but hear nothing. My hand rises to the doorknob then stops. I am, after all, the mother of a teenage boy. I better knock first.
Knock-knock again, louder.
This is alarming.
"Are you sure he's in here?" I hiss down to the Husband in the living room.
He's annoyed, but he doesn't look up from Panda Pop. "I'm tellin' ya, he's napping."
Still doubting, I turn the knob and ease open the door. And that's where I find the Hobo, fast asleep, sweating, drooling and indeed, napping.
My jaw drops. This is a kid who hasn't taken a nap since he was a newborn, and then, he never went down without a fight. Even before birth, his tiny fists and feet pummeled the insides of my belly all night long. The baby knew no bedtime.
I tip-toe over to the bed. Still not believing my eyes, I bend over his body. I have to make sure he's ok. "Hey," I whisper, shaking his shoulder. "Are you sick or something?"
He wrinkles his brow. "Hmmff?"
"I said, are you sick? Are you ok?"
He rolls over, eyes still shut, face perturbed. "I'm fine. I'm just tired, that's all."
Who is this kid, and where is my son, who hasn't slept since the Bush administration? I had to beg, plead, cajole and bribe him with Doritos to nap. I had to lay beside his crib on the hardwood floor, holding his hand through the slats to try and get him to sleep. Forty-five minutes later I'd be there, hips throbbing, still clutching his hand through the crib, his eyes as wide as saucers.
I'm not sure where such a non-napping baby came from. The husband is a nap-master, elevating it to a high art form. He can sleep anywhere -- outside, during a conversation, behind the wheel of a moving automobile. Anywhere.
Somewhat worried about the sleeping Hobo, I pull my phone from my pocket and Google "Teenage son sleepy." Thousands of posts pop up, all of which come down to "rapid physical growth."
Well. That makes sense. The boy has shot up at least six inches in the past couple years, towering over me now, his arms easily reaching the ceiling. It's almost scary how much he's grown, and sometimes it frightens me that the tall hairy guy raiding the refrigerator once resided in my abdomen. How did that gangly giant come from me? The physics alone are frightening.
I put my phone away and look back down at him. So now he naps. Great. Must be nice. One of my lifelong goals is a nap. As I've said before, I've been engaged in a futile attempt to sleep since the kids were born. The Hobo in particular thwarted most of my potential naps, insistent as he was on remaining awake until the second coming of Christ. That boy beat the sleep right out of me, and over time -- and the countless hours on the cold floor -- I learned to let go of the idea of ever napping again.
Hey -- I'm a parent. I gave up my dreams a long time ago.
I feel a wave of nostalgia, looking at his rumpled bed-head. It would be kind of nice, I think, to lie down, strike the old pose and watch him sleep. But 14-year-old boys don't take well to hand-holding.
And 48-year-old hips don't take well to the floor.
Standing there, I also toy briefly with the idea of waking him up, partly for revenge, sure, but mostly to stop the growth spurt that's pushing him ever taller, ever out the door, ever away from us.
Instead I ease my way from his room, shut the door and leave him be, just another drooling hobo, tangled in a blanket.