At one in the morning my toddler screams from her room
"Mommy, I need you!" she wails with gloom.
With eyes half open and feet full of lead
I make my way down the hall to the side of her bed.
There she is sitting, with paci in hand,
And a grin on her face, that I truly can't stand.
"My leg hurts," she offers, with little conviction;
I bend down to kiss it, not showing suspicion.
For the rest of the night, at every half hour
She chimes like a clock wound up with full power.
At two-thirty, I tell her "Please stop this! Enough!"
"If you don't go to sleep, I'll..." I bluff.
Well, that doesn't help, she now starts to cry.
My threat isn't working, so a new tactic I try.
I lie down beside her, softly stroking my dear
While whispering princess songs in her ear.
Twenty minutes later she seems deeply asleep,
And I try to get up without making a peep.
But sadly, no luck, the bed boards groan out a noise
And, with that creak, my hope of slumber is destroyed.
"Mommy, don't leave!" she sits up, wide awake.
The sound of her voice giving me a headache.
After popping two aspirin to erase the bad vibe,
I begin to beseech, negotiate and bribe.
"I'll buy you a new doll, a stuffed animal, a kite;
If only you sleep for the rest of the night."
She ponders this carefully, weighing her many choices,
"I need Sleeping Beauty," she glibly rejoices.
With a wide smile on her face, she settles back down.
In her head she is picturing that royal pink ball gown.
Hearing no cries, I disappear from her room.
This nightmare is over, I too eagerly presume.
Ten minutes later, with my dreams roundly romping,
I hear on her wall the sound of little feet stomping.
Next comes the songs, loud and persistent
My toddler's concert to an audience nonexistent.
I ignore her quite capably for the next full hour
And catch a few z's through sheer will power.
It's 4:45 when I awake with a start.
She is standing beside me: we are two inches apart.
"What does a rooster say to frighten you?" she proposes.
"Cock-a-doodle-boo!" she quickly discloses.
At any other time, words such as these would be clever,
But at this early hour, I don't care whatsoever.
"All right, you win, with me you can sleep."
So she climbs in my bed, to help count some sheep.
After all my attempts, to which she is immune,
I resort to turning on an early morning cartoon.
Now as I soundlessly curse my curmudgeon,
I say a prayer of gratitude to Nickelodeon.
With the glow of the screen and a steady stream of giggles,
I've no choice but to join her in watching The Wiggles.
Even though the American Academy of Pediatrics decrees
That toddlers who watch the telly may get ADHD,
At this extremely early hour of the morning
I could not care less about this trite warning.
Finally, I see signs of fatigue in the child
Her eyes now half shut, where before they were wild.
Just before dawn she turns her droopy gaze to me.
"Mommy, I love you," she mumbles so purely and sweetly.
She then buries her head underneath her pillow-pet
And I know that in ten years, this night I'll forget.
It's nearly six when I'm able to close my own eyes to dream,
But alas, at 6:20 I hear the baby's first scream.