When nothing gets children to sleep despair... Argus Friday 28th January 2-16

Posted Monday 1st February 2016   By Ericka Waller

When the alarm went off at 7am this morning I was so tired I cried. Getting out of bed, I felt as if I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. In actuality, I was pinned to my pillow by my three children. I'd done all I could to get them down in their own beds. They'd had a warm bath with lavender and chamomile bubbles, followed by a gentle rub with a warm towel and then a massage with Neals Yard oil. I tucked them into bed like a stern matron tucks in a patient, hospital corners, and all so tight they were unable to turn. I switched on twinkling fairy lights, lit the sandalwood oil burner and read books while simultaneously rubbing their backs, then finished off with a relaxing playlist on Spotify. This heady concoction of sleep aids, teamed with the fact I don't get any sleep had me drifting off like a baby (not one of mine obvs). I was woken by the girls jumping up and down on the bed screaming Harry Potter spells at one another ‘Avacado Kavado’.

I tapped out, the other half tagged in. He started by reciting all the capital cities of the world in his most boring voice (think Sports Report on Radio 5 Live, but even more boring).

He’s been doing this so long it’s turned into a quiz. My four-year-old, who cannot put her own shoes on, knows the capital City of Burkino Faso is Ouagadougou.

After getting five right in a row, she demanded a smiley face on her reward chart. He changed tactics, picked up his phone and pretended to call ‘The naughty school’. “Yes, hello” he said “I’d like to send my three children to your boarding school… oh yes, very naughty. Won’t sleep. What’s that? You have injections for that, marvellous. Right, chop off their hair you say, and give away toys, will do” obviously by this point they are all screaming so hysterically I have to tag back in to calm them  down.

Cue lots of hair-stroking, then the stroking of dollies hair after the promise if I do so, they will all go to sleep.

Brushing dollie’s hair soon turns into putting overstuffed teddies into tiny knitted pajamas with fiddly buttons.  Like the mug I am, I persevere, in the hope it will work. 

I know it won’t. If I do this, their goalpost will move. Next it will be if I let them look for more baby clothes on Ebay, or have some Shreddies. They must be with warm milk though, so they go soft.

My internet history proves I once googled ‘Flying Dalmatian with three legs’ after being assured it would bring sleep. Obviously there is no such thing, and hacking a leg off her stuffed toy, before putting some fairy-wings from the dressing up box on it did not have the same effect. “You killed my dooooooog mummy, and put wings on it to fly to heaven. I don’t want it to gooooooo”.

By this point I give up. I stand up with an aching back, resigned sigh and say “Go on then, go and get in my bed”. Yes, I am pathetic. A wimp. My children walk all over me. I am useless parent and I should never have been allowed to breed.

Worse than this shame though, is when I try and talk to my parent friends about it, hoping for some solidarity, only to be met with ‘Mine sleep twelve hours a night, have since the day they were born.’

This is often followed by ‘If I were you’ ‘Have you tried’ or ‘Why don’t you’.
No parent ever likes to hear sentences like these. They turn a tired, tearful parent into a tired, tearful, angry parent. A dangerous combination.

In other news, school children are being asked to define their gender by a list of more than 20 different terms.  Blatchington Mill School in Brighton were given the survey as homework and asked to choose from a list of 23 terms to say how they would describe their sex.

As well as girl and boy, the list includes a catalogue of other labels - including "non-binary", "demi-boy" and "gender fluid".

I don’t even know what these words mean. When I was at school there was one stock answer to  any question regarding sex and that was always ‘YES PLEASE’.

This original and witty retort instantly made you the funniest person in class, and got you detention after school. No doubt detentions will be demolished next for not being inclusive enough to all the other pupils.

Trying to get my children to sleep seems like an easier task then working out which out of 23  options is the correct way to describe their gender state without offending anyone.

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