Her head lifts momentarily from the crook of my elbow to adjust her position. Pieces of blonde hair stick to my arm like Velcro, slowly peeling away from my skin as if they were one with it.
I look down at her, asleep finally, and admit to myself that yet again, I have failed my kids in the going-to-bed-at-a-reasonable-hour department.
Wyatt is in a sleeping bag on the floor behind the couch, so he can be near me.
Katie is splayed out on top of me, sticky and sweaty and I did not wash her hands nor her face before sticking my time card in the slot marked "OUT" and calling it a night in the house of one parent. I can see the dirt under her fingernails from her late night bike riding and sidewalk chalking.
McRae, well, at least 1 out of 3 ain't bad. He's sacked out with the dog in his own room. Snoring. Just like his father. Sigh.
I remove her from my elbow, hoist her body up so that I can cradle all of her, and walk quietly up to her room where a haphazardly thrown Strawberry Shortcake blanket is waiting to cover her for the rest of the night.
It is 11:43.
I rustle the sleeping bag containing son #2, and with all my will and every last patient bone in my body, wake him and guide him back to his own room. "You will not be alone up here, your sister is in her room and I'll be up in a minute . . . after I do the dishes."
I know staying up to watch the lightening was a rare thing for us. The lightening part, not the staying up late part. It seems like the summer nights have suddenly sprung into overdrive and because of the heat, because we are all enjoying each other, because of a million different things - including the fact that I've grown lazy at looking at the clock - these kids of mine are staying up way too late.
And I wonder why someone has difficulty at bedtime. Could it be because bedtime has disappeared from our lives and instead in it's place is a 'whatever' attitude that simply does not work?