In stark contrast to my memories of babysitting children who just miraculously went to bed and stayed there, last night was...something else.
I've been struggling how to most accurately describe it. There's the idea of a revolving door, because that's basically how my door was functioning last night. But then there's the idea of a jack-in-the-box with that door flying open every few minutes, startling me out of whatever drowsy torpor I'd managed to relax into (not sleeping...quite...but almost). It was bad.
First it was Zoë, I think. She'd had a nightmare.
(No, first it was Alexander, just screaming in his bed; I went in to comfort him and retuck him in and so forth and then left and then Zoë came into our room).
I told her she could sleep in the cozy chair in the corner.
Next thing I know she's speaking right into my face: "I can't sleep in the chair."
"You can sleep on the floor, then. There's an extra pillow in the corner."
A few minutes later she's speaking right into my face again: "I can't sleep on the floor either."
Then back to bed she goes.
A few minutes later, she runs into our room again: "Still can't sleep. It's too scary."
Nope. Gotta get back to bed.
A few minutes later, Alexander runs into our room. I'd already taken him potty so back to bed.
I was just drifting off when there was a frantic clawing at our door, accompanied by blood-curdling screams. I jumped out of bed and flew to the door. Alexander tumbled into my arms.
"What's wrong, buddy?" I asked, stupidly.
"BLARGH-DEE-BUH-BUH-BLAH-DEE-BWO-BWO-BLUM-BUH..." Alexander screamed incoherently.
It was at this exact moment that I more or less quoted Joe Biden. But whereas he said, "Will you shut up, man?" I hollered, "STOP YELLING! Dude! I am literally holding you and you're just screaming nonsense in my face!"
Andrew was up by this time (evidently there are things that even he can't sleep through).
We each took a minute to tuck Zoë and Alexander into their beds and reassured them that they were fine. We even stole Benjamin's phone so we could play lullabies in the kids' room (their phone is currently missing and the battery is dead so we can't even ping it so the only way to play lullabies for them is to use Alexa, but she's in the hallway and has to be turned up so loud for them to hear it in their room that I would also hear it in my room and I...can't handle that). Lullabies seemed to help Zoë; she fell asleep and didn't bother us again.
But a few minutes later, Alexander came running to our room again claiming nightmares.
By now it was about 5:00 in the morning. I couldn't even recall how many times our door had flown open, how many times a child had screamed in the night, how many times I'd tucked those children back in and made sure they were sufficiently pottied and watered and sung to. All I knew is that it had been a Bad Night.
So I gave up and pulled Alexander into bed with us.