Susan discovers that between Finn's new tooth and the noisy neighbours there's no time to sleep.
'Sorry I threw the dummy at you last night,' I apologised sheepishly to
Roxi as she was getting ready for work. And I meant it. It's just that
when you have been woken up for the third time since hitting the
pillow, and it's not yet 3am, it's difficult not to take it out on
someone. Especially the person curled up in a snuggly little pile
snoring blissfully, mere dummy-throwing distance away from you.
It's our own fault. We'd become complacent. For two months Finn slept
solidly from 7pm until 4am when he'd gently stir for a quick bottle
before drifting deeply back to sleep until 7am. We had grown accustomed
to this pattern and stupidly presumed that we had this sleep thing down
pat. What's all the fuss about babies and sleep I smirked at Roxi.
And then Finn grew a tooth.
Instantly our nights turned into two-hourly stretches of sleep
interrupted by our little boy whose gums were so sensitive not even his
dummy could soothe him. Hence, the dummy landing on Roxi's head. This
carried on for five nights until one morning, a little white tooth
appeared in Finn's mouth and his periodontal discomfort seemed, for the
moment, to be over.
However, our sleep deprivation was not. The arrival of Finn's first
tooth coincided with the arrival of our new neighbours – five young
American men who had come to Africa to sort out our Aids problem, they
informed us. Oh yes, and they brought musical instruments along with
them. How they planned to help our country is anyone's guess. Because
all they really seemed to do is play their drums, saxophones and
guitars loudly through the night, while throwing in the odd whoop. And
if that's not enough, they made friends with other childless youth who
came and went through the night, amidst hooting, deafening guffaws and
The wrath of new parents who have been woken by something other than
their newborn, is not to be underestimated. Roxi and I lay awake
listing the things we were going to do to them. Let out the air in
their tyres, snap their windscreen wipers, throw egg on their
windscreen. Except that they had no car. We did get as far as standing
outside in our backyard at 5am and encouraging Finn to babble and
squawk loudly into the darkness. But eventually we were forced to take
real action. I suspect that the reason we didn't do anything sooner was
that we didn't really want to get on the wrong side of five large guys
whose intoxication levels rarely dropped below Very Drunk. But one
Sunday morning at 4am, when it sounded like the Cirque de Soleil had
set up camp outside our bedroom window, Roxi cracked and dialled 10111.
The police arrived within 10 minutes, and arrived again the following
night and the following…. In fact, the police were beckoned four nights
in a row, until eventually the police, the Americans and ourselves
could take it no longer. On the fourth night the police dragged the
Americans to our front door in an attempt at reconciliation.
'We're not so noisy,' said one of them who wore a stocking on
his head and was so stoned his eyelids had blisters on them. It was a
stupid thing to say to new moms whose tolerance for youthful
spontaneous partying had long disappeared with their sleep. Let's just
say that after our confrontation, that lasted close to an hour, the
neighbourhood returned to its former tranquility. Unfortunately the
stopping of the instruments coincided with the arrival of something
else … another tooth. And something tells me that there may well be
many more dummies thrown before the year is out.