“Um . . . hulloooo . . .”
“uh, zeemermuff *snork*.”
“I found this video game on sale and it’s really cheap and will you buy it for me?”
“Um, sure humafoogo zzzzzz . . .”
“Thanks, daddy, I love you!”
“Uh hmmm . . . hm?”
That’s the way my youngest daughter remembered the conversation. I didn’t remember it at all, except as a vague dream. In fact, I had to call my ex-wife the next day: “Did I tell the kid I’d buy her a video game?”
“Yep. And you told your oldest she could have your propane grill.”
They’ve learned the same method I used to use on my mother: Wait until the parent is sleeping soundly, and catch the right one, at the right time. You’ll be able to honestly swear that they said yes to the 1/10 scale model “Star Wars” Death Star now waiting to be unloaded from the truck parked out front, which is marked “Oversize Load”.
Not that I ever did anything like that. However, for those of you who remember this, a model company made a “Star Trek” Klingon battle cruiser that lit up and made phaser sounds. My parents couldn’t afford it, but how could they say no to those puppy dog eyes I made, while assuring them that mom gave a definite “Hasafrasen bwanna” just before I placed the order?
My mother was the main target whenever my brother or I wanted anything. We asked for stuff we didn’t even want, because it was fun to see the look on her face when the delivery man showed up with, say, a case of ball bearings, or three dozen live chickens. “I’m sorry, ma’am, but here’s your address, phone number, mother’s maiden name . . .”
Mom could hold entire conversations in plain English, eyes wide open, and have absolutely no memory of them when she woke up. And she took naps, which made it particularly convenient for us.
The truth is, we didn’t really ask her for much stuff. Being poor hit home with us the day the television stopped working, and DIDN’T GET FIXED. It’s those kind of little traumas that make someone appreciate the important things in life, like emergency TV repair money, so we knew the budget was precarious. We did, however, ask her if we could do stuff, and it wasn’t the kind of stuff she would have said yes to while fully conscious:
“Mom, is it okay if we shoot at each other with the BB guns?”
“Hm? Okay, just don’t aim at the car.”
“Mom, we were wondering what would happen if we detonated a model rocket engine under the lawn mower.”
“Um, all right, but mow the lawn first.”
“Hey, mom, do you think the Voltzwagon would float if we turned it upside down?”
“Roll the windows up first, so it won’t get wet inside.”
“Say, mom, can we play cowboys and indians with our new rifle and bow and arrow set?”
“Try not to make too much noise.”
“Mom, do you know the best way to pull an arrow out of somebody’s leg?”
“A good clean jerk, and have a bandage ready. Now, tell your brother to stop screaming, so I can get some sleep.”
But, all too often, good times for one are bad times for another. Those same kids who once swore they would never treat their own kids that way grow up, and one day find themselves wondering why their parents ever let them get away with so much. Then their kids get older, and they realize it’s so much easier to let their kids take some lumps and learn lessons the hard way, even if it means they break their leg and put somebody’s eye out.
Considering that, I suppose it’s possible there’s some psychology involved in a parent’s ability to talk in his sleep. Maybe the reason I don’t fully wake up when my daughters ask if they can hold a community dog show in the living room is because I just don’t want to deal with it. Maybe I’m just better off never knowing why they tie-dyed all the sheets, why the living room carpet is now in the back yard, or how that large, lavender colored stain got on the ceiling tiles.
“Dad, can we plug the basement drains and make an indoor swimming pool?”
“Dad, can I have 32 friends over for a pajama party? We’ll need to buy snacks and pop, and pick up 18 of them.”
“Dad, can I use the vacuum cleaner to get yard bugs for my science project?”
“Dad, can I build a water slide from the second story window to the neighbor’s kitchen? The neighbor’s mom woke up from her nap long enough to say it’s all right with her.”
“MMMM ... yarrraaaggghhhhh -- guh.”
“Thanks, dad! You’re the best napping parent ever!”