There is a game I sometimes catch us playing, where both parents of the screaming child pretend to be asleep and wait to see if the other one gets up.
I find that it is over faster (ergo far more welfare-friendly for Tiddler) if I kick hubby vey hard. But there was never going to be any kicking this Saturday. No cries for milk from Tiddler were going to pierce my dawn. No: Toddler, Tiddler and Daddy were away for the week. Camping in Ludlow (why choose Ludlow?) with some friends. I was going to lie in before catching a lunch-time train to join them.
Did I mention that I had been looking forward to this all week? To not having to go to work? To sleeping through six and seven O’clock without Toddler turning up at my bedside, demanding to go ‘in the tent’ (by which she means, ‘under the duvet’).
‘Toddler, I’m asleep.’
‘No you’re not, Mummy. Don’t you want to play tents with me?’
‘Not now Toddler. I’m sleeping. Hubby! Could you and Toddler play ‘tents’ in the lounge, please?
(Short pause here while Hubby extracts Toddler from the bedroom; she argues for a moment but I am not listening. I am drifting back to guilt-tinged snoozeville. So naughty but so, so nice……)
This Saturday I wasn’t going to feel guilty about my lie-in. I had been looking forward to this prospect all week. Tiddler wouldn’t try to climb into bed with me part-way-through because Daddy and Toddler had briefly forgotten to include him in their game of ‘tents’. Tiddler can’t talk yet; once it becomes clear that he still can’t quite mantle up by himself, he just stretches his arms out towards me and screams. It’s not ignorable. I unstick my eyes and pull him into bed with me, wearily.
‘Cuddles, Tiddler.’ Happy cooing.
Tiddler doesn’t really like cuddles though. Not unless he’s ill. And he isn’t ill very often. Within about three minutes the novelty has worn off and he is sitting firmly on my head, exploring my mouth and eye-sockets with his fingers. I try to ignore him, but I tire of the situation before he does, so I gently expel him onto the bedroom carpet. It feels as cruel as putting the cat out of the window, but Tiddler is a surprisingly tolerant chappie. He toddles back to find his Dad.
But not this Saturday. I had been looking forward to this Saturday all week. This Saturday, I was going to sleep through. Eight O’clock would go by without Daddy coming through looking drained, ‘I’m absolutely knackered. If you play with them for a bit, can I have twenty minutes’ nap?’
I do my best and biggest sigh, but hubby’s eyes are still hopeful and I realise that I’ve had all the priviledges that my working life is going to buy me. I wake up. There is no milk left for coffee (‘Tiddler was very hungry last night,’ says hubby) and when i open a packet of breakfast biscuits, there immediately appear two sticky upturned hands. Little beggars. I given them half a biscuit each.
I hope they sell breakfast biscuits in Ludlow. Why go to Ludlow, anyway? What is there to do there? I asked hubby before he went, but he didn’t really know. There might be some good castles, he said.
I’ve known what I was going to do on Saturday all week long: I was going to listen to some Saturday morning Radio, and it wasn’t going to be Radio 2. It’s not that I don’t enjoy ‘dancing, Mummy! Dancing’ on Saturday mornings to Radio 2, but surely what every working person really wants is to put their feet up and listen to Radio 4s Inheritance Tracks or From our own Correspondant after an absurdly long lie-in?
Anyway; I am at the station. The pillars are painted burgandy. They are about the right width for playing ‘peek-a-boo!’ around, or maybe leaping out and surprising some pigeons. I do think it’s sad that nobody is chasing the pigeons: they’re wobbling up and down, pumping their little necks in and out for all they are worth. Such a waste.
I have treated myself to a luxoriously thick weekend Guardian. I have already skim-read all the articles I wanted to read and the train is still over half an hour away. That’s how I read newspapers nowadays: quickly, before somebody wants their nappy changed. Normally, I do so thinking that it would be nice to read it slowly; digest every word. Turns out, I’m not in a word-digesting mood.
I look around the station in outrage that there isn’t anything else to do. I buy a chocolate bar and an overpriced coffee to dip it in. And what’s this? – the coffee has milk in! What a novel idea. Of course, the same thing happens with the breakfast as with the newspaper: it has gone before I notice. When I have finished, my top is still spotless; where are the mini-chocolate finger-prints? I blink and look round. I have been working very hard this week: I am very, very tired. The station clock says seven-something in the morning.
Yes, I know. I had been looking forward to this morning’s lie-in all week. But when it arrived, I just wanted to be camping with the kids. So I Zombied down to the station, changed at Stockport and am hoping that the Ludlow train is going to show up soon.