By: Mary Elder-Criss
It was late, and I was tired. It had been a long day, working outside in the hot sun, mowing grass, and weeding the flowerbeds, plus all the million other things that seemed to always pile up in the early summer. My son was spending the night at a friend’s house and my husband had left to go night fishing, which left me to finish the chores by myself, plus get the kids to bed. My two daughters eagerly seized upon the idea that they and Mom should have a slumber party in the living room tonight, since Dad was gone, complete with the requisite pop-corn, ice-cream, and videos.
I had heartily agreed to their plans earlier, and we had spent an enjoyable evening together painting our toenails and stuffing our faces while we watched movies. However, it was now approaching 1 a.m., and I was cranky, and hot. My husband had not yet installed the room’s air conditioner and I had forgotten to cover our family room sofa with a sheet. The tweed-ish upholstery of the couch was not exactly the coolest material to lie on, and it was itchy to boot. Too tired to get up and fetch a sheet from the laundry closet, I decided to just tough it out and try to sleep. That is when the whispers began.
Punching my pillow, I attempted to get comfortable, while ignoring the girl’s giggles and whispered conversation. I had just about managed to tune them out, when I heard my oldest daughter Emily, whisper, saying, “You ask her, then, if you have to know tonight. ”
“No, you ask her,” replied my eight year old, Erin.
“No, you, I’m not going to wake her up if she’s asleep. It can wait until tomorrow.”
“I wanna know now,” Erin replied stubbornly.
“Well, if you are so bound and determined on knowing, then you ask her, ‘cause I’m not getting in trouble for it.”
“O.k., then, I will,” Erin replied.
A moment later, I heard, “Mom? You asleep?”
Quickly considering my options, I decided to play possum. Maybe if they thought I really WAS asleep, they would give up after a few minutes, and I really could reach the state of unconsciousness I longed for where the stupid upholstery would stop bugging me.
“She’s asleep, Erin.”
“No, she’s not, either,” Erin whispered back. “She was awake just a minute ago, how could she go to sleep so quick?”
“Because she’s Mom. She can fall asleep at the drop of a hat.”
“Well, I say she’s not.”
“GIRLS!!” I whispered furiously. “HUSH!”
“Told you she wasn’t asleep,” Erin hissed smugly.
“Erin.” I said, warningly. “You were right, I wasn’t asleep, I was playing possum in the hopes that you guys would stop talking so I COULD get to sleep! Now, what did you want?”
“Playing possum? What does that mean?” Erin questioned.
Sighing deeply, I now knew I was in trouble. Once Erin’s curiosity was aroused, this could go on forever.
“Playing possum means I was pretending to be asleep, Erin.”
“But why is it called playing possum?” she questioned.
“It is called playing possum, Erin, because possums will pretend to....well, I guess they pretend to be dead or something if you approach them with the intent to hurt them.”
“But you weren’t pretending to be dead, Mom, just asleep, so why did you say you were playing possum?” Erin questioned.
“Good grief, Erin, I don’t know. It’s just one of those things you say.” Punching my pillow irritably, I flopped over and asked her again, as to why she whispered my name in the first place.
“Oh.” she said, and paused a moment to remember. “Well, I just wanted to ask you, does God really know how many hairs we each have on our heads?”
“Yes, Erin, He does.”
“But Mom, how could God know exactly how many hairs everyone in the whole world has on their heads? I mean, that’s got to be like gazillions, huh?”
“I’d say at least gazillions, Erin. God knows how many hairs are on your head, and mine, and Emily’s because He is God and He created us, sweetie. He knew you even before you were born, and He loves you very much.”
“Wow. That’s neat, Mom. It makes me feel pretty special.”
“It should, bug, because we are all special in His sight. Now, can we please get some sleep?”
“Sure, Mommy. Love you.”
“Love you too, honey.”
Smiling, I rolled over, punched my pillow one more time and had just again almost forgotten how itchy the couch was, when I once more heard a whispered voice.
“Mom?” questioned Emily.
“Yes, dear,” I sighed, “What is it?”
“Do you think God ever sleeps?”
“Most likely more than I do, Emily,” I muttered and punched my pillow again for good measure.