Like kids everywhere, Zboy is a little afraid of the dark. He has a light-sensitive night light in his room, which makes going to bed much easier on him. But sometimes he still wants a little company as he heads off to dreamland.
Tonight, with silent lightning flickering behind the curtains, he asked me to talk to him about when I was young. About the house I grew up in. It's a little spooky that he asked me about this tonight of all nights, as I'd been thinking about that house today and even drove by it. I told him that we didn't have air conditioning when I was little. Instead, we had an attic fan. It was a glorious and frightening contraption that moved the air in the house. But you had to have the trap door to the fan open, and the windows open to make the air flow. Back then, you could sleep with the windows open with little fear. Of course we had screens - had to or the mosquitoes would eat you as you slept. I had my bed sideways against the wall with the big windows and would sleep across it with my head on the window sill so that the air would flow over my head and down my body, keeping as much of me cool as possible. Perhaps that is why, to this very day, I cannot sleep in a room without a fan. The air must be moving for me to be able to sleep.
He asked me about friends, what we did for fun, and what was my favorite memory of the house. I told him all kinds of things. About my pal Stephanie from two doors down. About playing in the street because there were no cars. About roaming the neighborhood at night. About the Christmas that we all got football shirts and some friends of my uncle came to dinner and we all had musical instruments and had a parade around the livingroom making as much racket as possible. About the backyard and its fig trees and how Mom used to put rubber snakes in them to scare away the birds, then forgetting that she put them there and scaring herself silly when she went to pick the figs.
We finally lapsed into mostly silence, laying on our backs cross-ways in the bed with our heads toward the side with the nightlight on it. I raised my hands up and made a bird on the ceiling. ZBoy was enchanted. We tried all kinds of stuff. I managed a deer with a crazy eye rolling around, a camel, a dog, and a rabbit. ZBoy tried the eagle, but couldn't quite get his hands at the right angle to the light, so it turned more into a spider than into a bird.
I suppose we could have used one of these... but I have to say, my camel was better than this one!