Star, my fat black lab/pointer mix, has a lot of faults. She is shameless in her pursuit of anything edible, a relentless counter surfer and trash can digger. She is insistent on a walk every single night, even if the temperature is in below zero, or we are experiencing gale force winds, or a monsoon. She is also fiercely independent, unwilling to waste her time following a human from room to room.
Instead, Star spends most of her time on the living room couch, looking out the front window, pondering when her next walk might be and monitoring the activity of the neighborhood squirrel population. She does, however, come downstairs to my basement bedroom to and sleep next to me on the bed every night.
But Star has one rule.
She will not come to bed until she knows that everyone is in the house.
This has come in very handy since the boys have been teenagers.
You see, I am not a night person. I really like to go to bed around ten. And by the time weekends come, I am usually sleep deprived enough that I sometimes fall asleep around 9 or 9:30. Ok, sometimes even 8:30, depending on how busy the week has been.
My boys are just the opposite. They are total night people. It's not unusual for them to stay up until midnight, or one, or two, or three, depending on what they are doing. Denver has a midnight curfew for teenagers, and they usually honor that, unless it's a special occasion, like homecoming or prom, but midnight is really late for a bed-by-ten gal like me.
Now I know moms are supposed to stay awake. And I really do try. I get my book out, and I try hard to read until they come home. But sometimes, well, to be perfectly honest, sometimes I kind of doze off.
I don't have to worry though. Because I have Star, the night watch girl.
It works like this. I tell myself that I will not go to bed until the boys come home. But the house can be kind of cold at night. And so I get into bed to read. And then I fall asleep.
When that happens, my internal alarm clock wakes me up at some point close to when the boys are supposed to come in. I reach down to see if Star, the night watch girl, is laying at my feet. If she is, I know that the boys are home and I can go back to sleep. If the night watch girl has not come to bed, I know the boys are not home, and I reach for my phone to call and remind my darlings that they need to get their rear ends in gear.
Star is also more than willing to work a split shift. Sometimes, we think everyone is settled for the night. And then the night watch girl goes off duty. But occasionally, someone at our house might think they need to exit the premises again. Like the time, for instance, that Son #2's girlfriend had a housesitting job around the corner from our house. And said son thought girlfriend might be lonely. And so he left the house, via a very convenient window exit, to keep her company.
In those instances, Star, the ever vigilant night watch girl, hears one of her charges outside, and gets up to resume her post at the window. And then I feel Star jump off the bed. And wonder why she is getting up. And get up myself, just to make sure that everything is ok. And find out that it isn't. And reach for my phone to call said son and tell him I don't care how lonely girlfriend might be, he had better get his keister home.
Star has a lot of faults.
But she is a heck of a night watch girl.
And for that, I am truly grateful.