This is probably one of those things where you had to be there, but I’m sharing it anyway, mkay?
Between the time change and all manner of general crazy schedules these past few weeks (plus maybe extending lights-out just a bit too long in order to read Harry Potter with Ella *ahem*), bedtime and sleeping have been a bit of a crapshoot at our house. Annie actually swore that she was awake all night on Saturday, which explained why she could hardly keep her eyes open last night through dinner.
(As a matter of fact, so awake was she, she insisted that she’d been faking her snoring when Nick groggily left the room several hours post-bedtime, after having fallen asleep while tucking her in. She’d also been faking it when I checked on her before my bedtime and brought her to the bathroom for a sleepwalk tinkle. That kid is good, yo!)
In any case, we were all for getting the girls to bed at a decent hour last night, and, with the time change working in our favor, we actually succeeded. More miraculously, Nick and I managed to both watch Homeland (really, Jessica? Dana can just move out and you don’t even get a forwarding address? And WTF with the hoarding of the pregnancy sticks??) and still get ourselves off to bed at a reasonable time. Can I get a what-what!
I was happily mid-sleep when I shifted in the bed, doing one of those sort-of-but-not-really wake-up things, because maybe the dog moved too loudly in her kennel or Nick had gotten up to go to the bathroom. I was just turning over to return completely to sleep when I cracked my eyes open a bit and noticed the Cousin Itt-like silhouette hovering inches from the bed.
You know when you’re so thoroughly shocked and surprised, you do one of those full-body jolts that’s so extreme, it’s like in the movies when someone’s been electrocuted, and suddenly everything hurts? Yep. One of those. It’s a damn good thing I didn’t jolt myself right onto the floor.
It wasn’t a ghostly specter, however, nor an intruder, but my own darling offspring. See, if Ella needs something in the middle of the night, she doesn’t tap us on the shoulder. She doesn’t gently shake us awake. She doesn’t even whisper our names. No, she just stands there, fixedly staring at us, until we magically sense her presence and awaken. Which isn’t creepy at all, nor is it terrifying to wake up and discover a phantom in the darkness, frozen centimeters from your face.
(Actually, I should clarify this: I’m the one who sleeps closest to our bedroom door, so I’m the one Ella scares the bejeebers out of. Nick, blissfully on the other side of the bed, doesn’t even know the little apparition is there. Unless I blast him awake with my full-body jolt.)
Once I realized it was Ella standing there and not some ghoulish spirit who’d come to finish me off, I whispered and asked her what’s up. Why are you just standing there? What terrible thing has befallen you? Did you consider knocking? How about sweetly prodding me awake? WHY ARE YOU JUST STANDING THERE?? She then whispered back, “Something’s making a scary noise and I don’t know what it is, but I can’t sleep.”
What’s making a scary noise?
“I don’t know. But it’s beeping and then talking and it woke me up.”
Beeping and talking?
“Yes. It makes a beep and then it says something like, ‘Yo Daddy.’”
It’s saying “Yo Daddy”?
“Or something like that. It won’t stop and I can’t sleep.”
I got out of bed to investigate what was Yo Daddy-ing and waking Ella up, but I couldn’t hear anything. “It only happens every once in a while,” she explained. “Like it’s far off… Maybe it’s coming from the bathroom…”
And then it dawned on me that it was probably a smoke detector gone awry, chirping jauntily away, which everyone knows is super fun – because playing find-the-malfunctioning-smoke-detector is an awesome game to play in the daytime, but even more awesome at 3:45 in the morning.
At last, I heard the bleep and was able to immediately identify it as the smoke detector in our hallway (thank God for not having to play hide-and-seek at that hour). But it didn’t just chirp. No, this was a newer, smarter smoke detector, and after emitting the signal that had awakened Ella, it then said, “Low battery.”
Which, when you’re eight and scared awake by freaky beeping and talking right outside of your door at three-something in the morning, apparently sounds an awful lot like “Yo Daddy”.
I removed the detector from the wall and took out the batteries, mercifully shutting it up, and ushered Ella back to sleep. I figured I’d change the batteries in the morning, and was just crawling into bed myself when I had visions of the house burning down and the neighbors shaking their heads in bewildered sadness, muttering about how it was all because of the missing smoke detector, which meant, of course, that I slipped back out of the covers – careful not to awaken Nick – and crept downstairs to the kitchen to find the AAs. After creeping back upstairs, inserting the batteries, and putting the smoke detector back where it belonged (careful not to awaken Annie, who was actually still sleeping; thank goodness she wasn’t pulling another all-nighter), I snuck back into bed, grateful that I had moved so stealthily and everyone was heading back to sleep.
But then they started: the giggles. “Yo Daddy”. It was nearly 4 a.m. and all I wanted to do was sleep but because the smoke alarm batteries had to run low right then, the stupid thing started beeping… and talking… and my daughter thought some intruder was saying “Yo Daddy” over and over, and now I’m awake. It was all so absurd. “Yo Daddy”. I absolutely did not want to be laughing – like when you get the giggles in the middle of a sermon or during a funeral – but the more I tried to take deep, cleansing breaths, to calm the hysterics, the more they seemed to roll up from deep within and force themselves out of my mouth. I stuffed my face into my pillow; I bit my lip. It was no use. I couldn’t stop laughing.
Could. Not. Stop. Laughing.
Which, naturally, woke up Nick, and then I had to try to explain – in short bursts, through my uncontrollable giggling – why the hell I was chortling like a buffoon in the middle of the night. Ella was up… standing by the bed like she does… so freaky… and she’d heard beeping… it was just the smoke detector… and it was saying “Low Battery”… but she thought it was saying “Yo Daddy”… “YO DADDY”!… why on EARTH would it be saying “Yo Daddy”???… why did she think that??… why do I find this so funny right now?… omg, I can’t breathe…
And then Nick started to giggle, too. Just a single chuckle at first, as he rolled over to reposition himself to go back to sleep. Then silence. Then another chuckle. Then another giggle from me. Then deep, cleansing breaths and blissful quiet… And then a guffaw would burst forth from one of us, setting the other one off. “Yo Daddy”.
At last, we calmed down, able to squelch the giggles when they threatened to erupt, and started to settle back to sleep. I nestled more firmly into the comforter as Nick got quietly up to use the bathroom. The last thing I remember, just as I finally began to drift off, was Nick’s voice through the darkness from across the room – “Yo Daddy” – followed by a giggle.