We all have our crosses to bare.
Janet’s is being able to stay asleep when the kids shuffle past her side of the bed and scale the makeshift barricades I built out of dirty laundry to reach my side.
I know this because I’m already awake. I have the worst super power of all; I know they’re coming before even they do.
I wake, brace myself, and then,
thump, thump, thump, thump, thump, across the landing.
If I’d known their midnight meanderings were to carry on past their fourth birthday I’d have adopted teenagers.
I’m not normally one for conspiracies but it’s rarely the same child on consecutive nights which can mean only one thing. They’re bloody conspiring!
I’m convinced that when my back’s turned they’re discussing who’s on the night shift.
Call me paranoid but I’ve even taken to sneaking up on their conversations to try and catch them out.
So far it’s proved inconclusive, although I suspect Paw Patrol may be their codeword for grumpy sleep-deprived dad.
Occasionally, very occasionally, there’s a mix-up and they both sleep through. On these mornings there’s a tense atmosphere at breakfast. One of them has slept on duty and their brother is not happy. I assume a court marshal follows.
I’ve tried everything. Night lights and landing lights, alarm clocks and confusing their body clocks.
There is nothing this side of the Geneva Convention that’ll work.
My latest desperate attempt is rewards. They start each night with the promise of three stickers and lose one each time they come through before 6am.
They’re both in negative equity.
I’ve even taught Sonny how to tuck himself back in. The following night,
1am: “DADDDDDYYYY! I’ve tucked myself back in!”
3am: “DADDDDDYYYY! Do you want tucking in?”
5am: “DADDDDDYYYY! Shall I wake Luca up to see if he wants tucking in?”
5.05am: “Sonny woke me up! Can you tuck me back in?”
6am: “Daddy, I stayed in bed ALL night, can I have my stickers?”
There’s not even a pattern to their reasons. Aside from the nightmares and kicked off covers they often don’t even speak. You can turn them round, guide them back to bed and walk away.
I’m then left trying to get back to sleep whilst pondering on when ‘very late’ becomes ‘very early’?
I’ve yet to reach a definitive answer as I’m normally interrupted by,
thump, thump, thump, thump, across the landing. Again.
I say they don’t speak. Sonny did ask me at 3am whether he was a vegetarian. At 4am Luca wanted me to know that 1,710 was a REALLY big number.
The problem is I’m grumpy when I’m tired.
I know your body adapts to the sleep you get but look what only a few hours a night did to Margaret Thatcher.
I don’t have the luxury of coal pits to close down, and the only
miners minors I can take it out on are my own children, and there’s laws against that!
I may just snatch their milk in the morning.
Thankfully they know not to bother me before I’ve had my first coffee of the day. Now I just need to persuade them that I didn’t, and will never order room service before 6am.
In fairness to Janet she does do more than her share. If I lie very still under the covers they’ll occasionally return from whence they came and poke her in the face instead.
Fortunately my laughter can’t be heard above her scream, although by admitting this there’s a good possibility I may go to bed tonight and never wake again.