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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sleeping - Then and Now

Once, long ago, during a field exercise I participated in, combat instructors played the "enemy" and sought to "attack" my platoon. It was exciting, it was my first real experience practicing things I had learned as far as strategies and tactics in the field. We were all relatively young, so the shifts which we were to take to sleep seemed doable. I had the first watch that night.

Laying in the dusk in shallow foxhole, my chin propped, hands on my weapon at the ready, and my eyes scanning the horizon. Of course, it was muddied with trees and foliage so the horizon wasn't much. My ears alert for any sound. Members of my platoon lay sleeping in their foxholes on either side of me. I had it covered. I stood watch for roughly 4 hours. I never knew how boring that could be. I just wanted to move. I didn't know if I was cut out for this. Nonetheless, my watch was up, so I awoke the folks on my sides and alerted them it was their turn. One woke with a burst of energy asking for a recount of what took place the hours before. The other, well she just sort of lay there lifeless. She had no ambition. Still, she took her post, awake and assured me she "had this". I double and triple-checked. Yes, yes, go to sleep. Okay, then.

At this point, the air was much cooler, the night heavy. Everything around us black save for a tower's blinking light in the distance. About an hour later, after I fell into a deep sleep, I awoke. You know how when you can feel someone staring at you?

Screaming in sheer terror (hardly stealth was I), I was scared out of my mind. Sitting part on my hip and part out of my foxhole was a man. Not any man, but a face of a skeleton, painted white with black and red markings. He was small but wore this evil grin as if to say There's no escaping now. I screamed and screamed (yes, a high-pitched girly one).

He just sat there.

It took me what felt like an eternity to realize where I was and who this guy was. He was a combat instructor. At one point, I finally said, Oh, sh$t. I'm "dead" now right? He laughed and drew an X on my neck with a black marker to indicate he "killed" me. I felt like a fool. I had slept through this man sneaking up on me and so had my backup. She was snoring away, gee thanks I thought.

Fast forward to modern day. I can't sleep through anything. A child snores, I hear it. Someone gets up to use the bathroom, I hear that too. One of my children talks in their sleep, you guessed it, I hear it. Sometimes I even strain to hear what is being said. It's quite funny actually.

The moral here? Well, apparently once you become a parent a restful night ceases to exist. That's the case for me anyway. I'm always vigilant of what's going on in my house. I hear the dog many rooms away, running in her sleep. I hear my husband's breathing beside me, and even in another room, someone tossing and turning in their crib. I've been known to rush into a child's room as they are about to roll off a bed just to save them from crashing to the floor. My husband always ask how I knew it was going to happen. I just had a sense, I guess.

Apparently, I should waited to join the service until I was a mother, then I would have heard every crack and snap of the branches in the field that night. I would have told that combat instructor to back away from me with one eye open and one eye closed and not even had to move an inch. Maybe, I would have been able to employ my heightened mommy awareness. Maybe, I would have been able to use the eyes in the back of my head. Then again, I don't know if I could torn myself away from my children for an exercise like that. Something about lullabies and lavender at a nighttime bath are much more appealing to me now then dirt, camo paint and the faint smell of sulfur in the night air.

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