A few nights ago, after our usual bedtime routine, I asked Noah if he’d rather sleep in his bed or my bed. He usually picks his own bed, so I was a little surprised when he said he wanted to sleep in my bed with me. I told him that’d be fine, and began to prepare myself for a night of unending assault from my zonked-out four-year old.
I tucked him in and went downstairs to get some work done. I didn’t hear a peep the rest of the night. No doors opening, no pitter patter (is he too old to pitter patter?) of little feet, no requests for drinks of water. I went to bed about four hours later.
And he was gone.
I freaked out. I ripped the comforter completely off of my bed, hoping he had wiggled down from sight. He wasn’t there. Maybe he went to sleep in his own bed, I thought as I raced from my room and burst into his. His covers were flat. There was no child in his bed.
My franticness immediately turned into full on panic. “Noah!” I screamed, desperate to hear his voice or see his little feet sticking out from the covers I had just barely checked. I looked under the beds, in the closets, and still, no Noah.
I don’t think I’ve ever been that horribly scared in my life. I kept screaming his name. Nothing.
I raced downstairs and grabbed my cell phone to call 911, every horrible thought you could think of zipping around in my head. Before dialing, I did one quick sweep around the lower level of our home. He wasn’t there. He was gone. I flipped on my phone, walked into my office where I had been working for the last four hours, began dialing 911, and… there he was. Asleep on the sofa. Safe and sound. Oblivious to the yelling that had been filling the house.
How he got there, I don’t know. When he got there, I don’t know. How I didn’t see him or hear him at any point of the evening, I don’t know. What I do know is that the sofa is in plain sight of my computer. It’s only seven feet across the room. In fact, I had to walk past it to get out of my office. And somehow, I didn’t notice him there.
I put my phone in my pocket, and just stared at him for at least ten minutes, maybe longer. And then, when the panic was gone and when my adrenaline had subsided, I just started laughing. “You little stink,” I said as I scooped him up. I carried him up the stairs, and plopped him in his own bed. He never stirred. He never even grunted. The kid was out. It didn’t seem right after what I’d just felt thinking he was gone. Yet… it was perfect.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing.