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Headfirst, face down, dive!

If someone has a guide to air mattress protocol, please send it to me.

I spent the past few nights sleeping on an air mattress in our daughter's and son-in-law's New Jersey apartment. I had no problem sleeping on the air mattress; my problem was getting off the air mattress.

Your typical small air mattress that sits low to the floor is a wobbly animal. You put one foot down and the other foot pops up. It could well throw a hip out of joint.

Try moving around on the thing one knee at a time and your entire torso pitches forward.

I thought about getting off the air mattress by simply doing a log roll onto the floor, but if a twentysomething passed by and saw a woman my age flat on the floor I could be taking a ride in an ambulance before I could explain myself.

Short of alternatives, I wiggled to the edge, raised myself to a sitting position and let the rolling wave of air inside the mattress pitch me headfirst onto the living room floor. At least it was carpeted.

The reason I was camping on the air mattress was that our daughter and son-in-law were relocating and I was with them to watch the twin grandbabies. My job was to keep them from chewing on cable outlets and climbing into empty cardboard boxes, even if it meant they entertained themselves licking the glass doors to the balcony.

One day when the kids went to run a few errands and left me with the babies, it was getting close to naptime. Mine, not the babies. The twins never want to nap. Only the people who take care of them want to nap. I thought I could wear them out playing on the air mattress.

I plopped their 15-pound bodies in the middle of the air mattress. They promptly demonstrated my problem in confronting the air mattress. I had been shy and retiring, letting the air mattress shove me around when I should have been shoving it around. The babies proved that the best way to get an upper hand was to get up on all fours, then throw yourself, preferably face down, onto the air mattress. With arms and legs flailing, they would then quickly roll close to the edge, whereupon I would lunge to their quadrant of the air mattress, grab them by their legs and pull them back to center.

I worried this might frustrate the little varmints. For the next hour and a half they expressed their frustration by repeatedly getting on all fours and throwing themselves headlong onto the air mattress, giggling and screaming.

The only thing more entertaining than trying to body slam the air out of the air mattress was playing "Get Grandma." This was a little game where the babies threw themselves on top of Grandma on top of the air mattress, which sent rolling waves through the air mattress, pitching everyone from side to side, all the while trying to pull out Grandma's eyeballs, dig their sharp nails into Grandma's face and pull Grandma's hair.

Nearly two hours of playtime on the air mattress served a useful purpose. It was absolutely and utterly exhausting.

I slept through the night. And in the morning I knew exactly how to get off the air mattress. I asked my daughter to get me off the contraption by yanking on both my legs.