Absolute Beginners (2)

Both of my children snore.

They breathe in hard, and let out tiny, oddly congested sighs.  In through the nose, out through the nose; in through the nose, out through the mouth; in through the mouth, out through the nose.  They cycle, snort, reset, roll over, sigh, lay in silence and begin again:  Little signs of life.

My son had, once again, insisted that my wife and I read to him, not on the couch, nor in his bed, but in our room, in our bed; to be fair, this was a better choice than his bed, as his little brother was still settling down to sleep, tossing and turning in his crib, trying to find a comfortable spot to quiet his fast-evolving brain.

Stories had gone on, and, as often happens, the big boy fell asleep in our bed, and there we let him lay, knowing that at some point we’d move him to the room that he shared with his brother.

My wife had long since gone to bed, and I was sitting up, putzing around online, as I do.  All was quiet, dark, still.  I went back and forth between listening to the heater pop, the dog’s neurotic self-grooming and the petite, but loud snore coming from the kid’s bedroom.

I heard a bump in the darkness, just beyond the circle of light of my laptop.

“Hey, son.”

“Daddy, can I have some water?”

“Sure, baby.  And then back to bed.”


I walked to the kitchen, grabbed one of the little plastic kids cup with the colorful gears on it and made my way to the refrigerator, grabbed the gallon of water that we keep on the door and poured my son a couple of fingers of water.

He had deposited himself on the couch, his face planted in the armrest and his butt in the air, knees tucked beneath him.

“Baby, here’s your water.”

“That’s what I wanted.”  He reached for the water, missed, sat up and took it from me.  “Why did you replace it from where I was grabbing it?” he mumbled before taking three long gulps.

I took the glass back, placed it on the dining room table and stroked my son’s hair.  “OK, to the bathroom and then to bed.”

He eventually made it to his room, crawled into bed and grabbed my hand.  “Daddy, would you lay here with me?”

“For a minute, kiddo.”  He pulled the cover up over himself as I reclined in the space between his bed and the crib.

The baby shifted at the movement, babbled in baby sleep-speak, inhaled and began to snore softly.

The big kid’s breathing began to slow to that familiar, deep, sandpaper rasp: in…out…in…out…in…out, like a metronome that’s guiding a distant, budding thunderstorm.

I sat there, listening to the two brothers, their breathing syncopated, like two trains passing in opposite directions over the same rough section of tracks, rhythm and counter-rhythm: a campfire round of little breaths.

Eventually, the little one’s breathing caught up to the big one’s; or perhaps the big one’s slowed to match the little one’s; breathe in, breath out until they blossomed into a beautiful two part harmony.

I sat there for a minute, just listening to the little symphony of life-signs.

Both of my children snore.  As does their dad.  As does their grandmother, and great-grandmother; as did their great-great grandmother.

It’s in their DNA.