Urban Bedfellows

By Jon Methven

A weekend visit from my parents meant a reshuffling of everyone’s sleeping quarters, something my sons enjoy and everyone else despises.

Having lived in Manhattan for thirteen years, my wife and I have become accustomed to close quarters. We are efficient when it comes to closet space; we don’t have the acreage to be hoarders. And while our two-bedroom apartment is large by New York City standards, it shrinks remarkably when or friends visit. Sleeping, much like making sure everyone gets enough time in the bathroom, can be a tricky endeavor.

Everyone had to downsize. My parents, who own a king-sized bed, slept on our queen-sized mattress. My wife and I took my five-year-old son’s full-sized bed, and he camped out on the floor in a sleeping bag. “But in case I wake up in the middle of the night,” he prophesied, “I might come into bed with you.” Only my one-year-old, who kept his crib, went unscathed.

It’s not just the beds that were switched. We also outfitted our apartment with subtle nuances to help our since they were not accustomed to the strange noises that come with slumber. We lined the hallway and bathroom with nightlights, like landing signals for wayward jets. We put a fan on for my parents, white noise to drown out the midnight horns of taxis and the pre-dawn cooing of pigeons on the windowsill.

“I love waking up to the pigeons wrestling with each other,” my mother noted cheerfully.

“They’re having sex outside your window,” I informed her.

In our new quarters shared with our children, the nightlights were removed, extra pillows employed, and my wife and I gave each other pep talks. Under no circumstances could we do the following: sneeze, snore, yawn, roll over, embrace, or get out of bed. Any of these would wake a miscreant child who would insist on bunking up. And no matter what, no matter how tempting or accidental it may be, neither of us was to ever—ever— make eye contact with the one-year-old.

The one-year-old is the super-villain of the household when it comes to sleep. He does not actually ever want to sleep, especially when you do, and he’s always up for a midnight snuggle. If we make eye contact, he will stand at his crib hollering nonsense across the room, the infant version of, “Hey guys! Over here! I’m over here! Anyone want to play?”

On any given night, once eye contact is made, it sets in motion a series of events that culminate with everyone cramming into the smaller bed. Little known fact – children’s elbows are remarkably violent when they arrive into the ribs of a sleeping parent. Once we all settled into our various nooks and crannies, inevitably someone rolled over, and we all had to find our comfort zones again. The same thing occurred the following night, which is pretty much our limit for out-of-town guests.

Nighttime with houseguests can be long and strange. Most people heading home for the experience a similar sleeping arrangement. The best thing for everyone is to try and work in a nap the next day, keep your elbows to yourself, and if at all humanly possible, try to push the one-year-old off on someone else.

Tags:  Family Guests Holidays NYC Sleep Urban

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