Friday, April 24, 2009

Close Quarters

My daughter is currently sleeping in the living room. Raw suckage. It might not be so bad if we had a house with a living room and a dining room, or a living room and an eat-in kitchen, or a living room and a large bathroom, or any alternate space where David and I could shut the door and eat a little food, watch a little TV. But our place has just has a living room. Which means when Seconda is in it, there is no quality living going on.

It reminds me of when David and I took Primo to Rome when he was 18 months old, and we stayed with my aunt, my cousin and their dog in a one bedroom in the heart of the centro storico. It is a beautiful apartment and it’s got some serious location going for it, but for five people and a dog with separation anxiety, it was a little . . . tight.

Being resourceful New Yorkers, though, we made it work. My aunt generously ceded the bedroom to us, so we put the baby to sleep in there first and all hung in the living room until about 11 when my aunt would crash with my cousin on the fold-out couch, I would hit the sack with Primo and David would retire to the bathroom.

Yes, for two weeks David’s nightlife consisted of sitting on the toilet (lid closed, there was just no where else to sit) and drinking a Peroni while reading his book. It wasn’t the Rome we’d experienced before we had kids, but it was about as much fun as my jetlagged, beleaguered husband could stand anyway.

So my brood is familiar with living in tight spaces. But this current sleeping arrangement is for the birds.

It’s not like Seconda starts out in the living room. She starts out in her crib in the room she shares with Primo, a perfectly normal set-up. But lately she’s been getting kicked out of there because she is prone to shrieking “WAKE UP PRIMO!” continuously, throwing toys at her brother and sometimes even leaning over far enough to grab hold of his hair and pull hard – all when he is trying to go to sleep (a tough thing to manage in and of itself seeing as Primo has become an indefatigable soldier in the war against bedtime). So when she pulls that crap, she’s booted to the pack n’ play in our bedroom, which adjoins the kids’ room.

There are any numbers of reasons why she is relocated out of our room, and they become more hazy as the hours creep past midnight. Usually its because she pulls the same shrieking, throwing routine as she does at bedtime, except in the middle of the night, and directed at David and I as we huddle under our duvet cover and pray for mercy Mercy, in this respect, is rare. So we drag that old pack n’ play into the living room and then when David passes through to get his stuff and head out of the house at 5:30am, she wakes again and when Primo wants to watch the Magic School Bus or draw with his markers or eat something at 6am, I tell him that wing of the house is off limits and the screaming that results wakes the baby. And then we are all miserable.

But, enough griping, although I know it’s what you come here for. If I wanted easy living, I’d move to California. I love this hard-knock, inconvenient, tough-shit, stinky, uncomfortable city. Sleeping in the living room builds character, I say.