Bedtime for people and pets

      My eyes would not stay awake after seven days of supervising grandchildren. I fell asleep right after sending the youngest to bed.  I woke up refreshed and alert at 10 p.m. with my husband sound sleep beside me and glimmers of lights in the hall. I slid out of bed to check on youngsters and turn off lights.

On the top bunk, Henry, 8, slept in his nest of blankets and herd of stuffed animals. His overhead light shone brightly over him. I turned it off.  Across the hall, no light shone on sleeping Sam, 11. Two boys down, one teenage girl to check.

I knocked at the door and peeped in. Sophie sat cross legged on the bed with papers strewn around her, “It’s 10 o’clock,” I said. “Henry is asleep with that bright light shining right in his eyes. It doesn’t bother him one bit to have the light shining in his eyes,” I chuckled.

Just then the fluffy yellow cat peeked through the door. Sophie  clicked her tongue at it. “Come, Chewy.” She patted the bed. Chewbacca, scampered through the open door and leapt on the bed ready to snuggle all night against a warm body.

 “That reminds me of your Aunt Sharon. She had a cat that slept with her for years. She took it to bed every night to rub its nose as she went to sleep. The cat, Kramer, became so accustomed to the nose rub that she would begin circling Sharon around 10 every night, nudging her towards the bedroom. Kramer wanted to go to bed with Sharon. Kramer did a better job escorting Sharon to bed at a decent hour than we did. At least she did until Sharon neared the end of high school. Then she found plenty to do until 11 or 12 each night. Having a cat herding her to bed did not suit. Sharon pushed the cat away. ‘No, I am not going to bed now.’ The cat insisted at first, but quickly Kramer learned to go to bed alone. The few times after that when Sharon wanted to take her to bed, Kramer wiggled impatiently and refused to join her.”

Sophie smiled, fussed over Chewy and switched off her lights for the night.

Wide awake I thought about the number of times in one short week when I had seen children grabbing one of the cats to go to their room for the night. Having grown up on a farm with only outside animals, it surprises me every time. Twice  I thought all the children had gone to sleep only to discover that first one night Sam and the next night Sophie chose the mid-sized dog Nutmeg at bedtime.

Nutmeg generally sleeps in a cage, quite ready to enter it after a vigorous play time. That works for keeping the dog on schedule. But given half a chance and a human body laying recumbent on the couch when nap time comes and Nutmeg heads for the couch. She hops up, circles once or twice, curls in a ball behind their knees, closes her eyes and sleeps.

Shades of Nana the nursemaid dog in Peter Pan. Kids and pets connect at sleep time. When the children want to rise in the middle of the night to explore, the sleepy animals object and nudge their wards back to their beds. Remember with Nana gone that fateful night the children followed Peter to Neverland. Not something likely to happen at this address. Not with two cats and a dog to ask Wee Willie Winkie’s question, “are the children in their beds? It’s now eight o’clock.”