This particular festival is the last and biggest blowout of the summer tourist season, even though the fair cycle never really ends around here. It’s usually the most profitable of the community shindigs for Kris and me. This was what I kept trying to remind myself as I loaded Kris' truck bed up with paintings and framing material at four in the morning that Friday, the opening day of the 127th Annual River's View German Days Festival.
Personally, I'd rather be in bed, but I knew I had to make a concerted effort to sell at this particular festival. The tourists are so much more spendy when they get to meet the artists, and I needed to schmooze with people with deep pockets if I wanted to keep a roof over our heads this winter. Besides, German Days traditionally brings in a higher class of clientele, and to let the opportunity pass would be insane.
As soon as Kris took off with my load, I went inside and took a deep breath, mentally preparing myself to wake Nick up at the buttcrack of dawn. The kid is as much a fan of the early morning wake up calls as his old man.
As soon as I was sure I had my own pre-dawn crankiness under control, I climbed the stairs and went into his room. Peering down into the crib, I felt my heart sink a little. Disturbing the little guy when he looked so damn comfortable was not easy to do.
He slept with his two middle fingers in his mouth, slurping quietly. He wasn't a thumb sucker at all. He always went for the middle fingers. If he was feeling especially anxious, the index finger joined them, but that wasn't often. It would be easy to stay put and spend all day watching him, but the morning was being wasted and we had a schedule to keep.
I waited until he stirred a little in his sleep, then reached down and picked him up. He squeaked loudly when I settled him onto my chest and walked over to the window. The first patented Nick Doyle growl of disapproval rumbled deep within his chest while I sat down in the rocking chair I found at a yard sale back when he first got here. I rubbed his back to try to rouse him but he was putting up one hell of a fight against it, responding only by trying to curl himself up into the fetal position.
“Rise and shine, Nicky,” I whispered, bouncing him a little in my arms. Nick squeaked again and whimpered as he rubbed his face against my shirt. “That's not awake, slugger.”
I patted him on the back to speed up the process. He let out a snuffly snort and pressed his head up under my chin. The burrowing technique, it’s evil. It was a new tactic of his, and since its inception, it was the part where I nearly lost my will in the mornings. He was turning into a snuggler, and as much as I never really identified with the snuggler mentality, I enjoyed it more than I’d imagined.
I dreaded the risk of him waking up in a bad mood on mornings like these, but truth be told, the routine leading up to a morning of bitchy baby syndrome was kind of nice. He woke up so God-awful slow it was almost comical. The squeaks led to growls which led to whines. Eventually, I swore, I'd get this on video for future blackmailing purposes.
I kept rocking, patting Nick on the back so he'd get the message that we had to get moving. Finally, he let out an annoyed growl and pushed himself up on his forearms. He stared at me, pure murder in his eyes. Yep, he was pissed. To further state his case, he crinkled up his already reddened face and screeched at me before collapsing back onto my shoulder.
“I'm sorry,” I said, and I meant it. The poor kid should have the luxury of waking up on his own, I thought. Nick squirmed into a more comfortable position and despite the fact his face was hidden from view, his shallow breathing told me he was still awake. He stretched out his arm and grabbed at the collar of the flannel I was wearing. I sat back and kept quiet, letting him work on the rest of the waking up process himself. Soon, he found a button and started to pull at it, mixing things up occasionally by flicking his fingers over it instead.
“Got a button?” Nick pushed himself up again to stare at me. He watched intently for a minute, probably deciding whether he hated me or not for waking him up before the damn sun was even over the horizon. His eyes moved down slightly, breaking contact with mine, and he reached up to pinch my nose with one drool-covered hand. “Ouch,” I said, and Nick smiled before dropping his head down to my shoulder again.
Mission accomplished. One baby, fully awake.
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