When my daughter wakes up at 4:30 a.m. and makes sounds like an annoyed, wounded gazelle playing the trombone, I have difficulty figuring out just what to do. "Naturally" you say with an air of smugness that isn't called for, "you get up and get her." What makes it so difficult is the presence of what George W. Bush would call an "evil-doer." You've heard of Jiminy Cricket, the helpful conscious cricket in many Disney movies that gives good advice. Willard the Sleep Walrus appears just at these moments and is pretty much exactly the opposite. He makes a very compelling case to remain securely in bed.
[daughter imitating neighbor starting weed whacker]
Sensible Brain: "Your daughter is calling!"
Willard: "Ugh. It's THAT GUY again. Don't we just hate when he ruins everything?"
Me: "We sure do."
Sensible Brain: "What are you doing?! Get up!
Willard: "Don't let that square fool you. That's not your daughter. It's the mating call of a tropical bird outside the Hawaiian hut you were in just a few seconds ago. Now get back to Adriana Lima, who was in the process of eating a Popsicle by a pool, which, coincidentally, is filled with root beer float. You don't want to miss the show."
Sensible Brain: "But she's calling you!"
Willard: "Exactly. Don't keep Adriana waiting!"
Me: "Where is she? All I see when I close my eyes is the Brawny man."
Willard: "Oh, great. HIM again. I hope you're happy."
Sensible Brain: "I would be if you two just GOT UP."
Willard: "Your wife hasn't woken up, yet. So clearly this isn't an emergency. Women are built to know when something is wrong with babies."
Sensible Brain: ""
Sensible Brain: "She's still calling you!"
Willard: "Psha. 'Calling?' She's not calling. If anything, she's whining. And isn't your wife always telling you that you can't give her everything she wants when she whines because that will just positively reinforce her belief that she can keep doing it because she's in charge?"
Me: "Yes, we find this hilarious, seeing as though whenever our wife whines SHE always gets whatever she wants."
Sensible Brain: "That's because she's in charge."
Willard: "Yeah she is."
Me: "She is not. I just let her THINK she is."
[Sound of Sensible Brain & Willard laughing]
Me: "Shut up, you guys."
Sensible Brain: "Guysour offspring. She might be in distress!"
Willard: "Nobody talks like that, ya nerd. And, honestly, how much trouble can she be in, anyway? She's in a bed surrounded by wooden bars, a stuffed bear and stuffed musical giraffe. It's essentially an extremely comfortable, ridiculously adorable prison. If anyone should be complaining at this hour it's us, as we have a mouth-breathing snuggle monster draped around you like you're Captain Sleepytime and she's your thermal cape."
Sensible Brain: "She's just snuggling because she's cold. It's endearing and sweet."
Willard: "Yeah, while she's still sleeping, we're caught in a morning breath sauna. Is it possible to spontaneously become conjoined? I'm 90% sure this is how it happens."
Sensible Brain: "You guys!
Willard: "Ugh. Are you still here?"
Sensible Brain: "Our daughter is probably really hungry!"
Willard: "You fed her, what, 12 hours ago? She should be fine. This dream escalator is going to take you up to the stratosphere where you're going to be able to taste fireworks!!"
Sensible Brain: "When have we gone 12 hours without eating? Actually, when do we go more than four?"
Willard: "Why get up when you can stay in here on this flying unicorn that spits out Nacho Cheese Doritos?"
Sensible Brain: "See? You're thinking about food right now!"
Me: "Well, you're the one that brought up food."
Sensible Brain: "Look, guys, I'm just saying she's probably justifiably hungry."
Willard: "Why did our wife object when we wanted to install that hamster feeder? We were going to substitute marshmallows for the hamster pellets so it's not like we didn't think this through. If only WE could roll over and snack on spongy sugar cubes through a tube."
Sensible Brain: "Okay, no fooling guys, it's time to get up. You have to hear that."
Willard: "Relax, man, I'm pretty sure that's just someone's car alarm. Here, we'll just press this button and go back to sleep. You've always wanted to pole vault, right? Here's your chance. Maybe later we'll go jousting with suits of armor made of peanut butter M & Ms."
Me: "What is it? What's wrong?"
Wife: "You just poked my eyeball."
Me: "Blame Willard!"
Wife: "Blame what?"
Me: "Oh good, you're up. Your daughter has been calling. I'll be there in a minute or 60."
Kelly Van De Walle is the senior creative writer for Briscoe14 Communications (www.briscoe14.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via bad influence Sleepytime Willard, who will probably forget to give him the message.