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News & Features » February 2019 » “You’re in My Space” by Lisa Cole

“You’re in My Space” by Lisa Cole

Are you a parent going through the Terrible Twos? Did you live through them and survive? Terrible Twosdays is a place to commiserate over the unending shenanigans of your Darling Children (as the online parenting communities say). Nonfiction stories will be considered, so long as names have been changed to protect the guilty. Inspired by our best-selling gift book for parents, Go the Fuck to Sleep, Terrible Twosdays joins the roster of our other online short fiction series. Unlike Mondays Are Murder and Thursdaze, we’re looking for stories with a light and mischievous feel, all about the day-to-day challenges of parenting. As with our other flash fiction series, stories must not exceed 750 words.

This week, Lisa Cole’s oldest daughter deals with sharing space with her little sister.

You’re in My Space
by Lisa Cole
10, 8, 6 & 4 years old

It was 6:25 a.m. when four-year-old Brianna tiptoed into our bedroom. Dim morning light bounced off her damp cheeks. “Mommy,” she said, chin quivering, “I . . . don’t . . . feel ‘dood.” 

“Oh darling, come here.” 

Settling down, I pulled the quilt over us both. Nearly two years had passed since she had last wandered in for comfort. She touched my face, sighed, then buried her head under my chin. Snuggling her heated body against mine, I made a mental note to call the doctor at 8 a.m. 

Having her beside me brought back memories of co-sleeping—of languid nights and rapid years of growing babies and on demand nursing, of 2 a.m. wakings and teaching good sleep habits to tiny humans who must learn the rules of life. Of the four staunchly different personalities I’d dealt with, some were far more independent than the others. Like my second born, Bethany, who, from day one, was catlike, shrugging off cuddles. Baby Bethany would kick and twist and wander the bed in search of her own space. Baby Bethany didn’t care for nursing, showed disdain for being held, and was my only baby who wanted—no, needed—solid foods early on leading to early weaning. No, Bethany never did like anyone in her space. Even if that space was my own bed. 

Brianna and I lay dozing until the 7 a.m. alarm alerted me to wake the three big kids. Flipping on the boys’ light, I took in the two forms stretched on each bunk bed. Ten-year-old Braden, who can now look me square in the eye, popped up, hopping down the ladder from his top bunk with spry enthusiasm, his new glasses already on his face. He’s always been a good sleeper. Easy to bed, easy to rise. Six-year-old Braxton, below, wrapped in his ratty Night Night blankie, sucked his thumb. I rapped on the wall three times. He grunted like a bear, covered his face with the blanket and curled into a tiny ball. He’s always needed the most sleep of the four, and is the only one who reliably sleeps late on weekends. 

In the girls’ room, Bethany was already sitting up on her top bunk, her back to the door, shoulders slumped. Mother’s intuition declared her out of sorts. Not unusual. Mornings are tough. “Time to get up! Get ready for school, kids!” I called out once more before heading back to the master bedroom to dress. 

A few minutes later, Bethany stood in the hall outside the kids’ bathroom. Now dressed, the smiling unicorn on her grey sweater contrasted with her sullen expression. Her eyebrows shifted and forehead crinkled. She looked at my feet. 

“What’s wrong?”

“Mom. I’m so so tired. I didn’t get no sleep. At all,” she said, punctuating the last two words with foot stomps. Her mouth puffed in an exaggerated frown. She can be hyperbolic at times, a trait I felt oddly guilty for passing down. 

“None at all? Why on earth not, baby? You were in bed at 8:30.” I searched my memories for any sounds overnight that may have indicated issues. Nothing. I had slept well. 

“Because of Brianna. She kept whining and wanted to sleep up top with me. And then she needed to potty. And she kept wanting water, because she was thirsty. Over and over.” She’s tall enough to reach to my nose now, making conversations easier. More real somehow. Her hair is no longer baby fine but long and thick. Nearly adult-like. I noticed a rip in the knee of her favorite skinny jeans. Time to bump up to the next size.

“And you took her potty?”

“Yes.”

“Got her water?”

“Uh huh.”

I pulled her into me for a bear hug. And kissed the top of her head without bending. “Thank you, baby. That was so sweet of you to care for poor Brianna. She’s sick.”

“I knew. You’re welcome.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too, Mama.”

“Guys! Please move, I need to brush my teeth,” Braxton says, glaring up at us. We’re blocking the bathroom door. And his path to the sink. 

I let go of my not-so-little girl and watch her walk into the living room. “Brianna, let’s put your socks on now,” I hear her call out. 

No, Bethany never did like anyone in her space. No one at all.

***

LISA COLE has never met a Dad joke she didn’t like. In fact, five of her four children put up with her pun-filled corniness on a daily basis. Her family’s unwavering support acts as a motivational drip as she learns to Mom in a world tinged with contradictory advice. Personal passions lie in literacy and education, and during serious moments, Lisa goes hard core in volunteer roles related to those passions. Sometimes she even finishes the laundry. Read her southern-fried tales of parenting at LisaBCole.com or connect socially at FB.com/writerlisacole.

***

Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Terrible Twosdays flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should focus on the challenges of parenting. Ideally, stories should be about children aged 0 to 5, but any age (up to early teens) is acceptable. Stories may be fiction or nonfiction.
—Include the child’s age at the time of the story next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Feb 26, 2019

Category: Original Fiction, Terrible Twosdays | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,



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