You know those slow motion shots of suspended disaster in the movies? Like when a bomb is being dropped towards a wide eyed population as they clutch their loved ones. Or a bullet slow-motioned so extremely it appears to hang mid-air, spinning as it hurtles towards its horrified victim.
As an audience we gasp. Hold our breath. As if hoping in suspended time there will be some miracle that stops the impending doom. We don’t blink. We don’t breath. Our hands crunch into tight fists. A silent squeal starts to creep slowly up our throats.
This is how mothers feel almost every night when putting their babies to sleep.
There is a systematic course of action, that although occasionally deviates, is most likely destined to go as follows:
1. He latches onto the dummy (air punch)
2. Dummy stays there (double air punch)
3. His eyes start to droop and close for longer periods (inner silent scream and crazy-smile)
4. His arms stop flailing
5. That weird startle reflex stops
6. You sit dead still. No matter how awkwardly. Barely breathing. You can hear his potential cries in your head like a scary premonition.
7. After a few minutes you lie back slowly, tummy muscles straining (it’s been a while since Pilates) You slowly and carefully slide legs under duvet. Time stands still. Your head eases onto the pillow. Breath. Stare into darkness. Blinking. Close eyes. Breath.
8. And then you hear it. Before it even hits the blanket. The dummy drop. In slow motion you hear his lips release suction. You hear one drop of drool escape down his left cheek. You hear the split second of suspended silence as the dummy falls. It clatters like a ton of glass hitting a tin roof. Your spine quivers. Your eyes squeeze shut. You hold our breath. You hear the arms start to flail as they thwack the mattress. In your mind you can see his face turning red as he builds up his disapproving scream.
9. He screams. You sigh. You sit up.
10. Repeat X 4
And it’s only 9pm