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Emily Ford column: The young and the rested

How I wish I could sleep like my kids.
Like Henry.
I believe I could vacuum directly under his bed and still not disturb his heavy slumber. He sleeps in his dad’s childhood twin bed, nearly stretching from headboard to footboard.
He doesn’t complain about the narrow space and is always thrilled after a sleepover or vacation to return to his little nest surrounded by posters of snakes and dogs dressed as cowboys.
Six months shy of 13, Henry has just recently started to stir when I enter his room at 11 p.m. to retrieve the dog.
Usually by then, Georgia has taken over the bottom quarter of his bed, and poor Henry is sleeping with his legs and feet dangling off the side.
Or like Nellie.
We call her “the helicopter.”
Nellie has the biggest bed of all our children, a queen, to accommodate her nightly takeoffs and landings. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of sleeping next to Nellie usually wakes up black and blue after she has twisted, turned, flopped, kicked and spun all night long.
Her favorite pillow is her guest’s stomach.
Nellie is often in some kind of bizarre position when I tuck her in late at night, arms overhead hanging off the side of the bed or entire body rolled up into a ball at the bottom.
Or like Clara.
I have actually hung pictures in her room while she slept.
Clara has the oldest bed in the house, a three-quarter that belonged to her great-grandmother. We had a new mattress made at Taylor Mattress on South Main Street when Clara graduated to the antique bed from her crib, but we still use the old metal springs.
She loves how her bed rocks and rolls.
Surrounded by no less than a dozen stuffed animals and dolls at all times, Clara still must make a late-night trip to the potty.
She usually sleeps through this entire process, whining slightly when my husband scoops her up and carries her to the bathroom. There she sits, eyes closed, head bobbing.
He turns on the faucet a little, an old trick I learned from my dad. Clara raises her right arm and accepts the wad of toilet paper placed in her hand.
Then it’s back to bed, snuggled up with sundry puppies, kittens and babies.
I also wish I could wake up like my kids.
Henry is the early riser, up at 6:15. He’s all business, donning the clothes he laid out the night before and moving about so quietly I rarely hear him.
Breakfast eating, teeth brushing and bag packing are all accomplished with minimal fuss or drama. The entire process takes less than 30 minutes.
Nellie wakes up slowly. She likes to lounge around in her huge bed, thinking and dozing.
She might recall a dream from the night before or sing along to the radio.
Until I force her to get up. Then the drama begins.
Clara often wakes me up with a cheerful, “Good morning, Mama.”
If she hasn’t already gotten dressed, she will call downstairs to get the weather forecast from her dad, then choose the appropriate outfit.
We are lucky. Our children are good sleepers and for the most part, good wakers.
I just can’t wait until they learn to sleep in on Saturdays.
Emily Ford covers the N.C. Research Campus.

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