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Lightning sizzled across the sky as a monstrous clap of thunder drowned out the sound of blood hammering in my ears. Scrabbling for every possible hand- and foothold, I inched my way to the top of the rocky crag, buffeted by wind and weighed down by fear. From the next peak, the piercing glare of my opponent held me transfixed: an enormous emerald dragon.

Gripping my sword in one sweat-slicked fist, I raised the blade and caught the light of another lightning flash. The dragon recoiled for just an instant before inhaling deeply, ready to blast me to cinders with his internal flame. His cavernous mouth opened, revealing rows of dagger-sharp, gleaming teeth. From the infernal depths issued an unearthly sound, a hiss that sounded exactly like the word …


The eye not pasted to my pillow creaked open and eventually focused on the being before me. It was Junior, who had fallen asleep on his arm (which had become numb) and was now insisting that I “fix it.”

The transition from swashbuckling fantasy adventurer to barely conscious mother is not the easiest one to make. I did, however, manage to massage feeling back into Junior’s hand without actually snoring in his face.

This time.

It is a fact of parenting life that when your kid wakes up at Oh-My-God-Thirty, you tend to their needs. Drink of water? Certainly. Hugs after a bad dream? Of course. A little company and some light entertainment in the bathroom because they think that peeing is a group effort? Sigh. Okay.

There is only one late-night lament that I refuse to heed: the request to “get in da big bed.” See, Junior, for all of his amazing abilities and vast resources of charm, has one terrible, terrible trait.

He sleeps like an eggbeater.

I used to heed the “big bed” request, and was rewarded with dented kidneys and elbow marks on my trachea. After waking up one morning and finding myself unable to look anywhere but directly over my right shoulder thanks to an amazingly deviated neck, I drew the line. Junior is still allowed the comfort of the big bed, but only once I am prepared to vacate the premises.

On the plus side, I have discovered that there is a seven a.m. as well as a p.m.