Musings: Sleep of the Innocent

The noise was deafening. People all around us, a blur of voices, each louder than the other in an attempt to be heard. Screams as riders soared through the air on nearby swings. The clackety-clack of the old wooden roller coaster as it climbed and plunged and climbed again.

Under the shelter where we were sitting, the crowd roared as well-known country singer Conway Twitty began to croon another of his famous love songs. Or ‘old cheating songs,’ as some might jokingly call them.

Yet through it all our young son slept on.

The year must have been about 1977 and we were at the old Lakeside Amusement Park in Roanoke. A sweltering day during which we had exhausted our energy and finances all in the name of fun. Now as darkness fell we were enjoying the live show that had been touted as the main event.

Our oldest, and at the time only, child was about four years of age, our small companion in whatever adventures we undertook. His dad and I were young, active parents and he an uncomplaining, willing little tag-along. That particular night as he tired of being held in our laps, he lay down on the concrete picnic table where we were seated, a backpack as his pillow, and slept as soundly as if in his bed at home.

I was reminded of that time as I watched our little grandson sleep this past week. We spent a few wonderful, exhaustive days at the beach, a constant round of playing in the sand and waves, swimming in the pool, visiting the aquarium, riding the skywheel, go-carts, every exhilarating amusement park ride available.

Back at the hotel afterwards, the grandson would eventually collapse and curl up in the recliner where he slept as the adults continued a late night of chatter and laughter. Time and again I wondered how he could slumber through all that noise.

Yet I can recall many childhood nights, riding home through the dark with my family. From the front seat of the car, the murmur of my parents’ voices along with the nearby banter of my brothers would lull me to sleep. Often I would be so dead to the world that my father would have to carry me into the house.

These days I envy those young innocents, the ease and soundness of their slumber. Age seems to alter that miracle, as it does (unfortunately) many of life’s gifts. I recently heard a grandmother laughingly tell a child that someday he would regret all those naps he refused to take as a youngster.

A final sleeping story … our son called my cell phone one afternoon while I was napping after a restless night. The satellite signal is not good here against the mountains so he called again on the landline phone.

When I answered the second time, he said that between calls he told the grandson that he had apparently awakened me from a nap. To which the grandson had replied, “Daddy, you shouldn’t call and wake up MawMaw. Old people like to sleep.”

Wonderful thought. If only we could.

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