Sunday, 20 March 2011

Time and other myths

In only one week's time, time leaps forward an hour. I distantly remember when this was not a positive thing as it meant an hour less in bed, but in this present a 23 hour day is pure bliss. It not only signals the start of lighter and less clothing which I can now appreciate slightly more as I am slightly less, it also means less paraphenalia to bedeck the children with whilst shouting at them to get out of the house in the morning and most importantly and bestest of all it means that for one Sunday in the year I shall have one less hour trying to placate and generally keep quiet three hyperactive children in our bedrooms because it is socially (and personally) unacceptable to be downstairs and eating breakfast at 6am.

That time pre-dawn during the winter months is almost sole destroyingly lonely. K NEVER wakes voluntarily before at least 8 if he is working and later if not, so it is just me and the TV trying to keep them from playing recorder or jumping off their beds or hurting each other until gone 7 (if K is letting me have a lie in the agony lasts longer but the reward is greater). I have to keep them quiet because we live in a mid-terraced house and neither of my next door neighbours have children. On one side there are two flats (so twice as many possibilities to piss off) and on the other are two very miserable and upper-middle aged people who I assume at one time must have loved each other but now clearly hate not only one another but all small people. I know this for many reasons which I shall no doubt regale you with on another occasion but most obviously because they gave us a note to tell me that the children wake them up regularly and they would very much like it to cease.

The problem is that my children have never been these mythical creatures who have to be woken up or indeed sleep reliably until 7am every morning. They have always been a fan of waking at 6 and then for some inexplicable reason there are little pockets of time when they will wake before that. I mention this particularly because Ted woke up at 4.30am this morning with his hacking cough (the boy is totally and utterly incapable of being in good health), then again at 5.30 where he assumed the milk I was giving him was poisoned and so kept screaming and chucking the bottle back at me. By 6am both other children were awake, as was our lovely guest who was attempting to sleep downstairs so I gave up shouting reassurances at him, brought him in my bed and he suddenly realised the milk wasn't as bad as he had previously thought and lay back to drink the lot.

It has always amused me that whilst cooing over my newborns people often ask if they are a 'good' baby. Even Ted is unlikely to have been born inherently evil and it would have been jolly difficult to tell at a few weeks even if he were, so of course one tends to answer 'yes' to such a bizarre question. Clearly what they mean is whether or not they sleep through the night. As soon as you answer no, the world and his wife are able to cite numerous babies who were 'sleeping through' at a day or three or at the most six weeks and it is most usually their own sleep-abled children to which they refer. They are of course lying. Everyone does.

K is a big fan of myths. He is often picking them up from people (usually men) he meets during the day. He has mercifully stopped now but for a long time he was able to find people whose children slept til eight and never woke during the night EVER. He would then come home to a tired and irritable me and tell me of their brilliance and suggest that, like these people, I should just put the children down at ever later times of the night. If that actually worked then EVERYONE would do it and then there would never be any tired parents and the divorce rate would drop significantly. (For the record I have tried to put them to bed later but they actually wake earlier just to spite me and then spend the day being so exasperatingly irritating that I find I no longer love them by six and have to put them to bed an hour earlier.) K does not believe me so just shrugs his shoulders and says 'I'm just saying'. Helpful. The other stories he brings back are of the 'mythical wives'. I am extremely fond of these. As is he, although he truly believes they exist. These women NEVER nag, never moan, iron shirts, cook hot meals every evening, make their children sleep until a reasonable time of the morning and most importantly like to have sex every day without fail. I am very much not a mythical wife.

But then again K is not a mythical husband. But that is totally different because they actually do exist. I see them in the park and at school and generally everywhere. I know that there are millions of women all over the land having amazing weekends and being all smug and happy with their amazing children and husbands. Maybe it's because he is married to a mythical wife. These mythical couples never argue about sleep or housework or lack of both, in fact they never argue full stop. They raise the children almost effortlessly in their happy smiley world both agreeing on the best course of discipline or encouragement needed at exactly the right moment. They do equal amounts of housework and never tut or sigh or say 'fine' to each other in a passive aggressive manner when asked how they are and at the end of their perfect days of joint parenting and housework they sit down and drink wine together whilst never getting drunk or suffering from hangovers the next day (therefore making anything child-related that much harder). And they always, always have fun and action packed weekends with their happy, smiley and well-slept children. I imagine them having all their fun whilst I stack the dishwasher yet again, picking up escaped cheerios on my bare feet along the way and I listen to K offering the children a trip to Homebase/the park/Big Plate Cafe to break up yet another fight/screaming match/general hyperactivity that seems to form the basis or all of our weekends.

I met one man a few weeks ago who had taken his wife and one of his two children (a girl, 6) to see La Boheme at the Royal Albert Hall of a Saturday afternoon. That is the myth. The reality is that after spending what I imagine would probably be a small fortune on her ticket she played with his iphone for most of it. That is the problem with myths. I'm pretty sure they're not real.

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