The Schwietert-Collazo household has been a wild place the past few days.
Back at the beginning of winter, we called the city to file a report about a heat problem in our building. By the time the inspector showed up, days later, the heat was working. But he decided that he needed to send some more inspectors out to test for lead paint. They showed up, weeks later. Then the lead paint report showed up.
And then the workmen showed up, weeks later. At. 7. A.M. Three days in a row.
The work they needed to do to rid our apartment of lead paint necessitated Francisco shifting items from one room to other in precarious piles and required me to take Mariel out for hours at a time while the workmen did their thing.
Days later, we’re lead free but our eyes are like sandbags.
For some reason, Mariel has not been sleeping. After sleeping through the night once last week, she went on a three day-three night tear of not sleeping more than about six hours. Total. Francisco and I have taken turns looking at each other with bloodshot eyes and sighing, “I have got to sleep. Now.”
Dr. Felix, Mariel’s fantastic pediatrician, told us last week that it’s time to start introducing a schedule. A routine. It sounds nice in theory, but it’s not easy to introduce because it requires transitioning out of whatever this period without a routine has been.
Part of establishing a routine involves something we’ve actually been doing for a while now. Every night Francisco gives Mariel a puppet show. It involves a varied cast of characters: Piglet, Cookie Monster, a hippopotamus, Giffy the Giraffe, and a few other members of the stuffed animal menagerie. He sings Cuban lullabies and tells Cuban fairy tales and Mariel bicycles her legs and moves her arms around like the paddles of a windmill, grasping for the puppets and giggling, her eyes squinching up and her nose wrinkling in joy.
Cuban kids, I think, have got it good. Whereas lullabies and fairy tales in English are dreary, macabre, and downright scary (ashes in “Ring Around the Rosy”, ovens in “Hansel and Gretel”, and branches breaking in “Rock-A-Bye, Baby,”), Cuban lullabies and fairy tales are filled with bread and cinnamon and smiles and roses and nothing that would give anyone traumatic nightmares.
It’s one of the best parts of my day, this time when I watch him sing songs I don’t know, when her big, shining ojazos look at him with so much attention. And when I’m in bed with the pillow over my head, muerta de sueno (dead tired), I fall asleep listening to him walk our creaky floors, singing “Duermete mi nina, duermete mi amor, duermete pedazo de mi corazon.” (“Go to sleep, my baby, go to sleep, my love, go to sleep, little piece of my heart.”)