Bat, bat, bat. Purrrrrrrrrr.
It starts with soft paws at first, then a sandpapery tongue.
Can you feel it? A warm, fluffy kitten sitting on top of your chest as the soft light of a cold January morning filters in through the curtains?
Yeah … Neither can I.
Honestly, I WISH a warm circle of fur purring under my chin was my new wake up call.
It's still dark when that alarm sounds.
First there's a truncated bark. Just a yip, really, and then a thud followed by the skittering of many claws. More barking. More skittering. And an avalanche of quadrupeds tumbles downstairs into separate corners.
I am not fully awake – haven't even opened my eyes – but I can guess what's been happening in the dark. “Old Cat” has had enough of "New Cat's" antics, and "Deputy Dawg" – the self-appointed sheriff for these here parts – is laying down the law.
I reach for my phone. It's 4 a.m. There's no hitting snooze on this skirmish, either. There is no way the volleys would be evenly spaced nine minutes apart. Once waged, this war will last until kibble is spilled.
Daggers of cold stab at my knees when my heels touch the floor.
Of course, this isn't an alarm. It's become routine, like a possessed cuckoo clock bestowed by a doddery old aunt. A new surprise is waiting every hour on the hour, beginning four minutes after my head hits the pillow, which is a full seven minutes after my husband has entered REM sleep.
First it's the barking. A yip you ignore, hoping the dog will settle and go to sleep.
“What does she want?” my husband will ask me accusingly. As if I understand Dog but refuse to speak it, thereby making him an unwilling emissary to the animal kingdom.
“The dog wants to go out.”
What? Of course I speak dog.
So, down the stairs I go ... dink, dink, dinkdinkdink … and let the dog out.
Ten minutes later … Back up the stairs …. dink, dink, dinkdinkdink. Back into bed.
I am wide awake. The dog gets a slobbery drink and circles from one room to another, deciding where she will hunker down for the first watch. This means I have to distract her until the children fall off to sleep. I will have to stay awake.
The girl has already closed her door to the pitter-patter of furry feet.
Oh, it was cute at first … The way the New Cat wanted to snuggle up and sleep among the toys. Until she displaced Old Cat and found that stuffing was delightful to pluck out of plush victims.
And can you guess where the dog wants to be? … Of course, you can.
“But Mom! … I can't sleep when they are in my room. The dog lays on my feet, and the kitten tries to eat my hair. It's TORTURE!”
The boy doesn't want them either. “The kitten jumps onto my curtains and the dog chews up my dinosaurs.”
So I wait and try to appease the quadrupeds until sleep comes for the children, and I can open their bedroom doors a smidge.
I don't feel bad about my deception. They sleep like the dead, but I sleep like the undead.