My alarm clock rings, except it's not an alarm clock, and it is too early for me to get up. I open my eye slowly, just one, because if I open two, I have to accept the cruel fact that I am awake even though darkness still clouds my bedroom. Avoiding picking up my cell phone to check the time, the presence of the blue digits on the ceiling, the colorful reminder beaming from my wife's projection clock, indicated that it is 4:59. One minute early. My small human clock let's out another noise, part chuckle, part gurgle, indicating that it is time for me to open both eyes, roll over, place my tired feet on the floor, and get moving.
In the semi-light of the glowing nightlight, I see the shadowy outline of a small, amorphous figure. I lean over the crib, and ask him, "How do you sleep like that? You can't be comfortable" Even in my whisper, it's too late. The deed is done. Two bug eyes burst open, catching and latching onto mine. The corners of his small mouth begin to lift in the form of a toothless, drool-y smile - my favorite kind. "C'mon Bug," I say, lifting him gently in his sleepy state. "Let's go wake the Dairy Queen."
My wife and I have developed these sixth senses since Ezra's birth - I know when he is awake in the middle of the night and needs a pacifier or to be changed. She knows when it's feeding time. Painfully aware of this, when my first eye begrudgingly opens before five, I sense that it is time to deliver my man cub to his culinary delights while my wife, who would never admit it, snores with a high-pitched, leaky inflatable toy snore. As I enter the room, she shoots up, not from being startled by my sudden presence, but rather because her human alarm clock begins to sound. I hand over the precious cargo, and in my zombie-like state, fumble towards my side of the bed.
Normally, I return to sleep pretty quickly. That's what I used to do before my fifteen pound nugget of baby flesh joined the bed in the morning post-feeding ritual. Between my wife and I, Ezra sprawls out, like a mini bear rug in front of some distant cabin's fireplace, two hands reaching out, a snow angel between pillows and parents. This morning, in particular, those tiny hands that I love to kiss so much, become weapons of mass sleep destruction. "Dad," he seems to say with his eyes, "I'm awake. You will be too!" This unspoken communique is followed by a whack to my right eye, a high pitched squeal of humor, and the grumble of my wife, who, for some reason, has managed to make it back to sleep. I close my eyes, but he senses this game, and engages - his hand, like arcade-game claw, latches onto my hair, and pulls. "Damn," I think to myself, "This little monster is strong." I separate his latch from my weary clump of hair, and he laughs in response, but also uses his other hand to grab onto another particularly large cluster of hair. "I don't like this game!" I whisper, to which a pterodactyl squeal of pleasure replies, indicating that he, in fact, loves this game. I look up at the ceiling; the same blue digits indicate that it is now 5:20, I'm wide awake, Ezra's engaged, and it's going to be a long day. My wife rolls over and pretends that we are not there.