Politics & Policy

This Is Restful

Week II, alone with the kids in Maine.

LIBERTY, MAINE — It turns out that the chief trick of solo-adult lakeside life is not preventing small children from drowning, as I had feared, but getting everyone to sleep and keeping them there. At home we tuck the children into bed and that’s pretty much it until breakfast. Up here, for ten days now, each night has brought some fresh variation on the theme of “Let’s Wake Mummy Up.”

One midnight, for example, my bedroom door slams open, revealing Violet. “The woofs are coming! Woofs are coming to eat us!” she cries. Unwisely, I pull her in under the covers. “No, darling. They’re loons. Birds. They just sound like wolves.”

Veteran parents will spot the error: Never let a child get into bed with you if rest is your goal. But so sleepy am I, so husband-free is the bed, and so shivery-scared is she, it seems by far the nicest course. I should also mention that Violet is a champion cuddler, all downy and soft. We fall asleep entwined. And wake simultaneously, awash in hot liquid, at 5 A.M.

“Sorry, Mummy,” says a small voice.

The next night, it is Molly who appears in the dark, confused, and cold and apparently unable to find the opening of her sleeping bag. She climbs weepily into bed with me, and spends the rest of the night trying to locate my spleen with her elbow. This is less restful than you might think.

Even nature joins in the torment. One night I wake in a kind of panic, with maternal alarm bells clanging (like Miss Clavel in the Madeline books — “Something is not right,” she says — although her internal warning system wouldn’t be maternal, exactly, she being a nun…). I dash in the dark out to the screened porch where Molly and Paris are tucked lengthwise along old-fashioned aluminum gliders, to find a typhoon roaring through the screens. Molly is muttering crossly in her sleep as the rain drenches her face and pillow; Paris is curled up inside a soaking sleeping bag. Amazingly, they’re still asleep. One at a time I half-carry, half-drag them through the dark cottage to my bedroom, then run back into the deluge with my silk nightgown soaked and flapping, like a Faulkner heroine.

Down come the blinds, slam go a few windows, and I retreat shivering and dripping to my room. And discover that a sprawled nine-year-old and a six-and-a-half-year-old more than fill up a small double bed. But there’s nowhere else to go: I creep into a six-inch gap beside Paris, and spend the rest of the night hanging on to the edge of the blankets and trying to keep from falling off the bed.

The children, needless to say, wake refreshed.

“Hey,” says Paris, “What’re we doing in your bed?”

Meghan Cox Gurdon, who lives in Washington D.C., writes as much as her young family will permit. Watch for her new NRO column, “The Fever Swamp” starting this autumn. She wrote her first piece for NRO about vacationing with her children here.

Meghan Cox Gurdon writes regularly about children’s books for the Wall Street Journal.

Most Popular

National Security & Defense

Jared Kushner Was Right

Over the past several years, a new certainty was added to death and taxes: Jared Kushner would fail in his role as the administration’s Middle East point man. It caused considerable merriment among President Donald Trump’s critics (and even some of his well-wishers) when he put his son-in-law in charge of ... Read More
National Security & Defense

Jared Kushner Was Right

Over the past several years, a new certainty was added to death and taxes: Jared Kushner would fail in his role as the administration’s Middle East point man. It caused considerable merriment among President Donald Trump’s critics (and even some of his well-wishers) when he put his son-in-law in charge of ... Read More

The Secret Life of Joe Biden

In a classic episode of Seinfeld, Jerry is accused by his new girlfriend, a police officer, of being a fan of the tacky 1990s soap opera Melrose Place. When Jerry lies and denies it, she suggests putting him on a polygraph to find the truth. In an effort to beat the machine, Jerry seeks the advice of his ... Read More

The Secret Life of Joe Biden

In a classic episode of Seinfeld, Jerry is accused by his new girlfriend, a police officer, of being a fan of the tacky 1990s soap opera Melrose Place. When Jerry lies and denies it, she suggests putting him on a polygraph to find the truth. In an effort to beat the machine, Jerry seeks the advice of his ... Read More

The Consequences of Biden

If you have decided that another four years of Donald Trump would be intolerable, and the prospect of four more years of the dysfunctional Trump circus in the White House fills you with dread, fine. But approach the prospects of a Joe Biden presidency with clear eyes and no illusions. Electing Biden would move ... Read More

The Consequences of Biden

If you have decided that another four years of Donald Trump would be intolerable, and the prospect of four more years of the dysfunctional Trump circus in the White House fills you with dread, fine. But approach the prospects of a Joe Biden presidency with clear eyes and no illusions. Electing Biden would move ... Read More
Media

How American Journalism Died

In 2017, the liberal Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University found that 93 percent of CNN’s coverage of the Trump administration was negative. The center found similarly negative Trump coverage at other major news outlets. The election year 2020 has only accelerated ... Read More
Media

How American Journalism Died

In 2017, the liberal Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University found that 93 percent of CNN’s coverage of the Trump administration was negative. The center found similarly negative Trump coverage at other major news outlets. The election year 2020 has only accelerated ... Read More

The Last Days of Robin Williams

After Robin Williams hanged himself in 2014, the media speculated that financial troubles or depression related to drug or alcohol use might have been the cause. Without discussing those topics, Williams’s widow, Susan Schneider Williams, is eager to set the record straight and does so in Robin’s Wish, a ... Read More

The Last Days of Robin Williams

After Robin Williams hanged himself in 2014, the media speculated that financial troubles or depression related to drug or alcohol use might have been the cause. Without discussing those topics, Williams’s widow, Susan Schneider Williams, is eager to set the record straight and does so in Robin’s Wish, a ... Read More

In Praise of Trade School

About a decade ago, I participated in a discussion hosted by the chamber of commerce in a university town about state policies regarding higher education. I’ll never forget the first comment I got from one of the attendees. “The problem with your presentation,” she said, “is that it didn’t focus ... Read More

In Praise of Trade School

About a decade ago, I participated in a discussion hosted by the chamber of commerce in a university town about state policies regarding higher education. I’ll never forget the first comment I got from one of the attendees. “The problem with your presentation,” she said, “is that it didn’t focus ... Read More