Teething tantrums
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 loud conversation.

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.

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