When my son was a tiny baby and didn't sleep – ever – my mother commented that I'd been the same. When I asked her when I started sleeping
through the night, she thought hard and said she thinks I was around two.
“But don't worry,” she said, “one day you'll struggle to get them up.”
My son never slept through the night at two. Or at four. He is ten now and wakes for a midnight wee which requires several lights to be switched on, and floorboards and toilet seats to be thumped. Being a bit of a germ freak, he never forgets to wipe the toilet seat or wash his hands. All of this requires a great deal of ripping of toilet paper (it's loud in the night), sniffing, gushing water, bumping and throat clearing. And then he thumps on through to the parental bed, where he slumps his burgeoning and sleep-heavy body all over the nearest parent and breathes heavily into their ear.
During school term he throws a mini cadenza every single morning when I wake him and speaks only in grunts until we're in the car, when Gareth Cliff's morning show manages to get him to brighten up.
On Saturday and Sunday mornings, however, he wakes with the first birds and stomps into the milky morning light to do a bit of boarding or wall tennis. Every adult in the neighbourhood wakes to the sound of his medley of morning song.
“SSSSHHHHHHH!” I half shout, half whisper out the back door, my eyes puffy and my moer somewhat sour. He comes inside and sighs dramatically. It is only five past six and there are still two hours before he is reasonably allowed to skate, sing or do his own commentary on his solitary backyard rugby game. Cuddling
in bed is not an option. Reading is not an option. Drawing – his only other quiet activity – doesn’t happen early either. On weekend mornings my son is, apparently, woken by his body's need to move, clang, shake, wiggle and sing. This strange phenomenon is not present from Monday to Friday.
Now it is holidays
. For them. Not me. He requests to stay up later. Not unreasonable of course, but problematic if one is – as he is – the real-life version of the Saucepan Man from The Faraway Tree. As I drift off to sleep, his starts to rummage through his enormous box of Lego bits for a vital piece. It cannot be found.
He croons an old Queen song – voice rising at the appropriate moment in the chorus – and then decides that he will be better able to locate the missing piece if he tips the entire box of Lego on to the bedroom floor. We have wooden floors.
I once had swimmer's ear on the left side and found that if I slept on my right, I couldn't hear the kids' night time antics, leaving Number One to cope with them.
I've tried to get it again, but sadly I appear to have been completely cured. What’s the best way to keep kids quiet in the morning?
Read more by Karin Schimke