I walked up the stairway leading to our living room after arriving home from practice. Before getting to the top, Madison popped up and shouted “Happy Girls’ Day!” “I’m a man!” I said, hands on hips when I reached the living room. “Go get Daddy his gift,” Lynnette said. Madison ran to the island and reached into a small box. She pulled out a pink macaroon. “It’s for you and it’s pink,” she said with a mischievous smile. She loves that stuff, getting a rise out of me. I have only myself to blame. Perhaps this is the unintended consequence of the psychological games I played with her starting when she was 18 months old.
By the time I get home, I have just enough energy to take a shower and slowly power down my brain with Criminal Minds, some iteration of Law and Order, or the WWE Network. I’m usually the first one in bed and I am followed closely by Abby. Maybe because it was cold, maybe because it was Girls’ Day – maybe both – Abby was dressed in her pink sweater. She climbed into the bed, nestled herself in the comforter, and watched Agents Hotchner and Rossi argue about Rossi’s methods. It was an old episode. Madison did that thing where she pretended she was afraid of the dark again. This happens when she doesn’t want to go to sleep. Lynnette left the room to cruise with Mad for a while, and I got down to the business of trying to fall asleep. I was still sort-of awake when Lynnette returned.
“Abby really loves her pick jacket,” Lynnette said in the darkness. “Mmm,” I said. “I think it soothes her,” she said. “Mmm,” I said. Abby balled herself up next to Lynnette. “She likes to cuddle with mom,” Lynnette said. “She likes the pillow,” I said. “What?” Lynnette asked. “Abby will sleep by me, too – but only if I have the pillow between my knees. She sleeps in the pillow, in the space right behind my knees,” I said. “So maybe Abby’s ready for a doggie bed?” Lynnette asked.
“You want to get divorced, yeah?” I said. As you know, Abby has two uses for a doggie bed, and neither involve sleeping. The first is as hump buddy; the second as a chew/shred/devastation toy. “Maybe she’s ready. She doesn’t rip our pillows,” Lynnette said. “That’s because they’re our pillows. Look at what she does to the couch pillows,” I said. If one of us makes the mistake of leaving a square pillow on the couch, Abby will wait until we are all otherwise occupied before she slinks out of the bedroom under the cover of darkness and goes to town on the pillow. Inevitably, one of us will ask “Where’s Abby?” Inevitably, I will walk into the living room and turn on the light to find a dog wearing a guilt face standing over a wet, gouged pillow.
“Abby doesn’t need a bed,” she sleeps in ours. “What about the day time, when she’s home alone?” Lynnette pushed. “Umm, she cruises couch all day, it’s not like that isn’t cushioned,” I said. Lynnette laughed before I even finished my sentence. This is Lynnette’s crusade that will not die. She wants to keep buying Abby doggie beds in the hope that one day we’ll come home and it hasn’t been violated. “No need. I’m going to sleep,” I said.
I closed my eyes. “Ooh, I didn’t check out Zulily yet!” Lynnette said. Sometimes, like last night, when I try to fall asleep, I’ll silently ask myself mundane questions so that my mind shuts off in the arduous process of trying to figure these things out. The questions can range from things like “What am I packing for lunch tomorrow?” to “Is there work I have to do when I get to school?” Usually, it takes me only a few minutes to fall asleep. But not last night.
“Ooh, rain wear!” Lynnette said. “Try look these clogs!” the owner of two degrees said. She turned her phone to face me. “Please don’t shine that in my face right now,” I said. She pulled it back. A few moments later, she said “What about these?” and promptly held her phone in front of my face. “You like get divorced, yeah?” I said. She turned off her phone. “Look, all I’m trying to do is get 15 minutes a day with my daughter and 15 minutes a day with my husband. Is that so much to ask?” It kind of was. I was really tired. I rolled on my side to face her. She ran her fingers across my eyebrows. “Yeah, massage the front of my head,” I said. “No, I just wanna trace your slugs,” she said.
I don’t remember what happened after that. I think it was my alarm.