Estimated reading time — 3 minutes
My son is 2 years old and does. Not. Sleep.
So when I saw an ad online for Goodnight Precious: the only book GUARANTEED put your child to sleep, I clicked. I was skeptical — but there was a video demonstration on the website.
“I’m going to show you how this works. Right now, I’ve got a child in bed.” The goateed man motioned to a 3 or 4-year-old boy lying in bed, wide awake. “I’m going to read the book to him. Watch what happens.”
The video cut to him finishing the book. “The sun is set, and you slumber. Goodnight precious, little wonder.”
As soon as he closed the book, the boy’s eyes fixed straight ahead. Blank. Motionless.
Then they fluttered shut.
“No wakeups in the middle of the night, either. Once he falls asleep with this book… he stays asleep,” the man said, over the boy’s light snores.
I was sold.
I clicked the order link. In three days, I had the book in my hands. It was a lot thinner than I expected — only a few cardboard pages. The cover was a drawing of a boy sleeping in bed, as an old woman (maybe his grandma?) watched them from a rocking chair in the corner.
I read it to Jackson that very night. “It’s time to go to sleep, little dear. When you wake up, I’ll still be here,” I read softly. The illustration showed an old woman tucking a child into bed. She wasn’t smiling.
I glanced at Jackson. Still wriggling and wide awake. But he seemed to be enjoying it, at least.
“Night has fallen, stars are out. Go to sleep now — don’t you pout.” This image showed the same woman, sitting in a rocking chair next to her sleeping child.
“You’ll sleep through sadness, sleep through pain. And when it’s done, we’ll do it again.” That rhyme’s really a stretch… I glanced at the image. The woman was getting out of her seat, walking towards her son’s bed.
“Go to sleep now, little one. Be patient, now — we’re almost done.” In this drawing, the woman was looking down at her sleeping child from the bedside. She was holding a pillow.
I turned the page, to the last one.
My heart stopped.
The old woman was pressing the pillow over the child’s face. Smiling, with one of those cartoonish grins you often see in kids’ books.
I read, in a soft, cautious voice: “The sun is set, and you slumber. Goodnight precious, little wonder.”
I closed the book and looked over at Jackson.
He was fast asleep.
It really works! I moved him to his bed, and enjoyed some well-earned alone time. Who cares if the book is a little weird… it really works!
An hour later, I was asleep.
* * * * *
I woke up at 8.
Jackson didn’t wake me — at all. A welcome change from the usual. I looked over to his still, slumbering body and smiled.
But by 11 AM, he still hadn’t woken up.
He never sleeps this late.
Maybe he’s sick?
I turned on some light music, talked to him. I patted his back. No response. “Jackson?” I said. I picked him up, put him on my lap.
His head slumped against my chest.
“Jackson? Are you okay?”
Nothing. Just his soft, deep breaths against me.
“Jackson? Jackson, wake up!”
I yelled in his ear. I bounced him up and down. I brought him out in the sun.
Nothing woke him up.
Now, it’s almost 3 o’clock. He’s been asleep for 19 hours. I’m about to load him into the carseat and drive him to the doctor. I think something is terribly wrong with him.
Check out Blair Daniels’ critically-acclaimed collection of short scary stories, Shadow on the Stairs: Urban Mysteries and Horror Stories, now available, on Amazon.com.