Some nights the bedtime routine is harder than others. Tonight, M had hit his wall before we’d even begun — he’d had a particularly difficult day and was sat on the couch looking as though his head was filled with concrete. Tonight would be a solo gig.
First child: toilet, hands, catch her as she runs off, teeth, catch her again, PJs, read story, into bed, kiss, shut the door firmly, open the door, get drink, shut the door firmly, open the door, promise to send Daddy up, shut the door firmly…
Second child: nappy, PJs, hands, teeth, take her in to kiss her sister, take her down to kiss Daddy, take her up to her room, go to find beloved Pink Lamb, return to find her hiding in the closet, deliver beloved Pink Lamb, Mother May I?, sleeping bag, Vicks under chin, Olbas oil on bedsheet, lie down to feed, convince her to keep feeding and not climb off bed, feed some more, switch sides, convince again, finally give up and lay her down with fingers crossed, distract with Ginger Rabbit, turn on humidifier, slip out… and wait… and wait… nothing, so go downstairs at last.
M was putting on his work clothes. “But you’re not on call this weekend!” Nonetheless, the guy who was wasn’t answering his phone — not for the first time — and M was taking his chance to make himself less likely to be laid off.
All quiet again, I sat on the couch and thought about making a cup of tea, and perhaps reading my book, untouched for a week… Except that all was not quiet — there as a moaning emanating from the first bedroom, breaking the hard-earned silence. A moan, not a cry, so I ignored it for a while. And ignored my book, and surfed the web while I waited for it to stop.
It didn’t — just carried on at the same pitch, same volume, in the sure knowledge that annoying persistence wins the day. Suitably irritated, I went back up, skipping nimbly over the creaky stair: priority number one, as ever, is to not wake the other child.
She wanted her blanket put back on. And company, of course. Fighting it would be too loud… I laid down on the bed, to her utter delight, squishing her a little and pressing my nose against hers. She smiled broadly and giggled too loudly. “Shhhhhhhh!“ She giggled again, whisper-quiet.
I dropped my head to the pillow and just laid with her for a minute. What was I missing? Some useless telly? A book I haven’t touched in a week? I looked into her grinning face, inches from mine. She wanted this. So did I.
“My legs! Mummy, you’re squishing my legs!” I was, a little because the bed is too small for both of us, and a little on purpose — my get-out. “Mummy! Mummy, get up! My legs are squished!” I got up, but kept my nose to hers.
“I love you.“
“What are you going to do? Are you going downstairs?”
“I’m going to have some tea, and read my book.”
“And then what?”
I kissed her on the forehead, and on both cheeks, and then walked to the door. “And then I’ll come and check on you again.”
The promise warmed her, and she smiled broadly and snuggled down into her bed. And I smiled back, warmed as well… and shut the door firmly.
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