I love when half seven is approaching; pm that is. After an arduous day there’s nothing better than bedtime being in sight. You’re sitting reading your kids’ favourite books while they use you as a trampoline, shouting you down and kicking you in the face. However, you no longer even feel the need to shout when they knee you in the eye. All annoyance that was building inside you has melted away because you can see the minute hand edging its way towards half past. You fantasise about sitting down, drinking tea that’s above room temperature and eating chocolate in plain view.
The hands of the clock reach half seven and you slam the book closed. “Bedtime!” you shout out with finality, trying to not be too be too vociferous about your delight. “See you in the morning,” you say cheerily, placing emphasis on the morning part, like a pleasantly worded threat. You skip out of the room.
Then it starts: the cot vault.
You’re sitting on your laptop, watching a make-up tutorial when suddenly your child is at your side.
“What the hell?” you’re thinking. “You’re only one, how did you sprout legs long enough to get out?”
You lead her back to the room, thinking you somehow must have forgotten to place her in the cot in your haste to get away.
No, you realise, she’s mastered the high jump. You’re screwed. You put her back, hopeful it was a one-off and that she’ll forget how to do it again, roll over and drift into a peaceful slumber.
Speaking of which, why is it called sleeping like a baby when babies don’t sleep?
You spend the next two hours dashing back and forth between the living room and her bedroom, determined to carve out alone time. That isn’t happening. She doesn’t appreciate the sanctity of adult time. She doesn’t know you’ve been eyeing up a bar of chocolate since 3pm, waiting for a minute alone to eat it without hearing “Mummy, I some, I some, I some.”
Not only does she not stay in the cot, she doesn’t stay in it for longer than two minutes at a time. You thought your exhausting day had finally reached its close and now you’re having to do a full work-out too, and you make a concerted effort to avoid the gym. This is like weight-lifting and the treadmill simultaneously.
You plead with her, “Just stay in bed. Now say night night.”
“Night, night,” she chirps.
“Good,” you think, “That’s that nipped in the bud.”
You sit down. She appears in the doorway again. She lured you into a false sense of security with that night, night of hers. She now thinks it’s a game and that you think it’s funny too. She’s sorely mistaken. You chase each other back and forth between rooms for what feels like weeks. How can a one year old out-run you, you wonder? Oh yeah, you remember, it’s because three years of sleep deprivation and children climbing on you has left you weary, weak and crippled.
After hours of this devilry, she finally stops smirking as you lay her down to sleep. “Thank God,” you think, “five minutes peace until my bedtime.” You sit down with a sense of achievement; similar, I’d imagine to how a person feels when they have finally wrestled a relentless crocodile into submission. Only this isn’t over. See you in my doorway at 6am tomorrow, little crocodile.