The Troll Who Does Not Sleep

“Avery likes to be held, doesn’t she?” the nurses say as I saunter through the hospital hallways at 9:30 PM, the PITA Girl in my arms. “Do you?” I ask her. Our faces are inches apart, so she leans back to look at me. Her eyes are red and wet. Tears hang from her bulbous cheeks. She doesn’t answer. “Actually,” I say. I kiss Avery on the cheek. “I think it’s more that she hates being in that crib.” I continue down the long hall. “Also,” I whisper. “She hates me.” Avery neither confirms nor denies this statement.

12Earlier in the day Avery trolled me hard. I walked into her room where she and Mama were sitting quietly. A few minutes later, she handed Avery off. Avery let me know that she could tell the difference between her favorite singer and her least favorite father. When my mother-in-law emerged from the bathroom she offered to take Avery back. “No,” I said. “She gotta learn.”

For roughly 15 minutes I held Avery in my arms and she cried off and on. She would scream, then wind down into a whimper, then catch sight of her balloons and stop completely – then remember who was holding her before crying again. She wouldn’t let me sit down, not even to rock her. When Lynnette’s cousin Charleigh walked into the room Avery spotted her and leaned out towards her.”Has she been crying for a long time? Char asked. “Yeah,” I said. Avery pulled away from me and reached out both arms toward her aunty. “Oh, really?” I said.

Charleigh scooped her up and Avery immediately stopped crying. What the hell? I thought to myself. Charleigh laughed. “You’re so mean to your dad!” she said to Avery. Avery swiveled her head around and shot me the look captured in this photo. I thought that Avery would quickly realize that Char wasn’t Mama or Lynnette, and that she would resume crying. Nope. “Try sitting in the rocking chair,” I said. “Is she going to cry?” Char asked. “She did when I tried to sit in it,” I said. Char lowered herself into the rocker. Not a peep. She turned Avery around to face me and no crying. Avery stared right at me. Char laughed. “You really are a PITA Girl!” she said. In case you’re scoring at home, the list of people who hate me is as follows: Dragonite, the New York Mets, the workers at the Mililani Mauka McDonald’s who always put just the one patty in my Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, and Avery.

3During the first two weeks of Avery’s stay in the “regular room”, she would sleep at 8 because of the medication she’d been on. This afforded me time to get work done. Well, since they’re weaning her off of that sweet, sweet sleep elixir, Avery’s had a much more difficult time sleeping. As in she doesn’t want to sleep at all. I have spent the last two nights trying bargaining, walking, begging, strolling, and begging again for her to sleep. She answers me with the same fussy whine. If I put her in the bed – even just to change her diaper, she transitions from that whine into a full blown I-am-being-murdered-by-my-father-who-love-Pokemon-more-than-me wail might stir sympathy in me if it wasn’t so damned over the top.

At 9 last night I strapped her into the stroller and she screamed the whole time until I rolled her outside. The crying stopped abruptly. I wheeled her down every corridor with the Pokemon Go app on so I could get some mileage on my eggs. But it didn’t work because GPS couldn’t find me in the walls of the hospital. For the record, I love Avery a little bit more than Pokemon. Anyway this era of good feeling lasted only 10 minutes before Avery started crying again. I took her out of the stroller and walked her instead. My right arm went dead in the bicep. Not enough curls for the girls growing up, I guess.

Mercifully at 10 PM one of the nurse’s aides took Avery from me and placed her in the stroller. “Go sleep” she said. “Are you sure?” I asked. She nodded. And so I wrapped myself up in the comforter atop my pullout seat/bed. I didn’t fall asleep immediately so I got to hear Avery being wheeled around the floor. I heard her screams then heard them fade until they disappeared. A few minutes later I would hear them again, they’d intensify, and then they’d be right outside the room door. I laughed in the dark. She was doing laps. I don’t know what time it was when she finally fell asleep.

I do know that it was 1 in the morning when she woke up screaming. I zombie walked toward her and rescued her from that horrible, horrible bed. I wrapped her in a blanket and fell into the rocking chair. She stopped crying. I kept rocking until I she began snoring. Pleasepleasepleaseplease. I thought as I rose out of the chair in slow-motion. I carried her back to the bed. I took a deep breath. Pleasepleasepleaseplease. I mouthed as I tilted her and put her back on the bed. She didn’t fuss. I threw two blankets on her and pat her leg for a minute.

It’s Back to School Night. I will be on campus until 8 PM. I know that Avery does not know this. But you can’t convince me that she doesn’t know this.

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