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Dan Conradt: Steven has his first crush — between Mom and Dad

January 14, 2019 GMT

“You’re squishing me!” Steven said. “Move over!”

“If I move any more I’m going to fall out of bed!” I whispered.

He twisted around until he was laying north-and-south in an east-west bed. Two little feet jabbed me in the ribs and started pushing.

“Stop it!” I hissed. On the other side of the bed Carla breathed the long, slow breaths that only come with the deepest sleep.

I slapped Steven’s feet away from my side and managed to move another half inch toward the edge of the bed. Karl Wallenda would have been proud.

I squinted at the clock radio on the night stand; 4:27 a.m.


‘Tonight I’m sleeping on the Hide-A-Bed,’ I promised myself. It was a sign of sleep-deprived desperation; a Hide-A-Bed always feels like you’re sleeping on a bag of doorknobs.

The hotel room came with one king-sized bed, which proved to be much too small for two grown-ups and a 4-year-old. The desk clerk tried hard to convince us to take a room with two beds. Spending all that extra money seemed like such an extravagance. But next time …

“You kept me awake all night!” Steven said. “You snore!”

“I don’t snore!”

“Yes you do!” and he made a sound that reminded me of the garbage disposal. I was glad he couldn’t see me smiling in the dark.

“Shhhh! You’re going to wake up Mom!”

“I SHOULD wake her up!” Steven said. “She kept rolling over and squishing me.”

He repeated his imitation of my alleged snoring (I do NOT snore); this time it sounded like when you run the garbage disposal and it starts chewing up a fork.

“And you talk in your sleep!” he said when he was done imitating my snoring … which I do not do.

“I don’t talk in my sleep!”

“Yes, you do!”

“Really? What did I say?”

“Blah blah blah, then then you laughed a little bit.”

“That probably wasn’t laughing … that was me groaning in pain because you kept kicking me in the ribs!”

For good measure, he kicked me in the ribs.

I pushed myself closer to the center of the bed, wedging him into a narrow space between Carla and me.

“I … can’t … breathe!” he said. It was so exaggerated I couldn’t help but laugh in the dark room. It earned me another kick; this one I probably deserved.

I moved back to my three inches on the edge of the bed, and Steven grew quiet.

The glowing red numbers on the clock radio read 4:42 a.m.

I was just starting to fall asleep when Steven kicked the covers back and crawled over me.


“What are you doing?” I asked. It came out a little louder than I’d expected, and Carla rolled from her right side to her left.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” Steven said, the bottoms of his footie pajamas rustling across the all-purpose carpeting of the hotel room.

I was nodding off again when he crawled over me to get back into bed.

“Did you wash your hands?” I mumbled in a voice that sounded sleepy, even to me.

From the center of the bed there was a big sigh, then he crawled over me again. There was more shuffling on the carpeting, the water in the bathroom sink ran for about two seconds, then more shuffling before Steven climbed over me a fourth time to get back into bed.

“I should have brought Bear,” he said when he’d slipped back under the covers.

“We probably wouldn’t have had room for him,” I said. “There isn’t room for the three of us.”

“He’s very quiet,” Steven said. “He helps me sleep.” Then: “Can you tell me a story?”

“Sure, but we have to whisper so we don’t wake up mom.”

“Can you put your arm around me?”

I draped my arm over his shoulder. “What story do you want to hear?”

“Jack and the Beanstalk!”

“That’s my favorite,” I said. “Once upon a time …”

By the third “Fee Fi Fo Fum,” he was sound asleep.

The clock radio read 5:06 a.m. With some luck I could still get two hours of sleep.

I pulled the covers up over our shoulders and wiggled my head to dig a hollow spot into the middle of my pillow.

We were nestled together like two spoons in a silverware drawer, and Steven’s hair smelled like Johnson’s Baby Shampoo.

I’m going to have sore ribs in the morning.

But it seems there was plenty of room for the three of us after all.

And it sure beats sleeping on the Hide-A-Bed.