Dear Dave

Friday 9 January 2009

The joy of being a troll

Dear Dave,

Need coffee. Back soon.



That's better...


Nope, I'm going to need a chocolate biscuit as well...





Yes, I think that's done it. I'm probably awake enough to type in a straight line now. I just need to resist the urge to go lie down under a blanket and have a nap...

After the disruption of the holidays, we're back to the normal routine of nursery, school, clubs and homework. It's been more of a wrench than normal, though. This was the first full holiday since Marie learnt to do without adult company upon waking in the morning. Up until the last week of the summer, she'd need her bottom wiped first thing and then demand breakfast ten minutes later and want dressed fifteen minutes after that and then, before long, insist on a game of Mousetrap. I'd keep sneaking back to bed but there wasn't much chance of real sleep. Essentially, once she was awake, so was I.

Suddenly, this is no longer the case. Despite sharing a bedroom with all three children while staying with my in-laws this Christmas, I was almost unaware when they got up. There was a bit of grunting and shuffling in the early morning darkness and maybe a hug from Marie and then I rolled over and went back to sleep.

For hours.

The kids policed themselves. I was confident that if any of them got into mischief or trouble, at least one of the others would come and snitch. As it turned out, the only arguments were over whose turn it was to play on the Wii and these conflicts involved such arcane calculation methods that I had to leave resolving them to the boys anyway. ('Lewis had an extra fifteen minutes when it should have been my shot because I got to choose what level we played when we were playing two-player on his shot. But he says the half an hour I had before he got up was part of my turn because he was asleep and he should get an extra turn before tea but the level I want to do in my shot takes an hour and Lewis got an extra turn the day before yesterday while I went with you to the shops. I told him that if he let me play until tea-time, he could play all morning tomorrow, but he doesn't want to do that because he might forget to get up and he said that it wasn't fair that I wanted to play a one-player game on my shot when we'd played a two-player game on his shot but he was the one who wanted to play two-player. I wanted to play the DS but...' Etc.) Marie simply ignored the boys and got on with... Erm... Actually, I've know idea what she got on with. I stayed up late, got up late and came down to find all three of the children playing happily and without complaint.

It was fantastic but a little weird.

I'm paying for it now, unfortunately. Despite having to wake early to get everyone ready in the morning, I'm still in the habit of staying up late. This arrangement isn't so good for obtaining enough sleep to function as a human being; it's more in line with the slumber requirements of a particularly grumpy troll. Hence the coffee and biscuits, in an effort to quell the urge to go lurk under a bridge and hassle passing goats.

Not that I'm really grumbling. I got more proper lie-ins over Christmas than I've had in a long while and, in some sense, even the tiredness I have now feels good. After years of sleep deprivation caused by babies and toddlers, it's kind of liberating having the chance to screw up my bio-rhythms myself for a change. Besides, with luck, the magic will hold and I'll get to catch up with a couple of extra hours under the duvet on Saturday morning.

The kids getting older may be bringing me career uncertainty but it definitely has its plus points...

Now I think of it, I noticed some other advantages over the holidays as well. Not least, Fraser has finally moved onto proper board games involving dragons and such like. This should make my life more entertaining, especially when we open up my his new Crossbows and Catapults set and get to fling little plastic projectiles across the room at each other's castles. Having children is finally paying off!

Not all their presents were so appealing, mind you, but making words from random selections of letters in Boggle is still a step up from most of the games the kids have had before. The highlight was when Sarah suggested a word made from combining the letters 'S', 'X' and 'E'.

Fraser looked embarrassed. "I thought of that but didn't say it."

"Do you know what it is?" Sarah asked.

"I think so," he said but didn't elaborate.

Sarah nodded. "It's where the dad puts the baby seed into the mum."

"Or it can mean whether someone is a boy or a girl," I added.

Fraser squirmed slightly. "Oh," he said, "I thought it meant something different."

True to the name of the game, this statement boggled my brain. Then the Queen's Speech came on and we had to be quiet. Quite what he did think sex was, I never found out. (Fun as the discussion would have been with Great Aunt Edith in the room, this was probably for the best.)

Of course, besides more sleep and decent board games, there are all the obvious improvements that having older children brings, such as an end to nappies and greatly reduced dribble, but we passed those milestones a while back and I was expecting them. What I wasn't expecting was for Marie to spend three hours playing an educational Fimbles game on the computer, the other afternoon. I didn't settle to doing anything much because I kept thinking she'd stop at any moment and want me to give her some attention. She didn't. She happily entertained herself until tea-time. If she starts doing that on a regular basis and I'm prepared for it, who knows what I could achieve?

Life is changing.

We've even recently migrated from the toddler TV of CBeebies to the children's TV of CBBC. We have entered a world of gunge tanks and documentaries about farting, all linked together by a presenter with impossibly cool hair and a grouchy cactus as a sidekick. This is more my level. I may never have to watch the Teletubbies staring at a tap-dancing bear ever again.


Yours in a woman's world,


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