The small boy’s bedtime routine is now pretty well laid out. 6.30pm is bathtime, during which he can be found running around the flat, laughing his head off while I vainly attempt to scoop him up and into the bath with bubbles, bath crayons and half a dozen grubby ducks. How they can be this grubby when they LIVE IN A BATH is beyond me, but they manage it.
Then it is ‘teeth’ time, during which the small boy brushes my teeth with a grizzled old toothbrush, pausing occasionally to suck some of the toothpaste off or mither for more out of the tube.
Following this: further running around the house, this time the small boy completely starkers, laughing his head off even more, with me chasing him around trying to remember what it was I once read in a Gina Ford book once about non-rowdyness at bedtime.
Gina is so ubiquitous now within parenting circles that I think she has actually become a verb. Mothers talk about ‘doing Gina’ with their kids, with varying degrees of success, failure or abject horror at the idea of preparing their little one for a 15 minute sleep at precisely 16.45. (Gina would never say quarter to five.) Needless to say it never caught on in our house, but her words still ring in my ears as I find myself doing the very thing that awful mother she admonishes on page 145 was doing which made little Tabitha such an unmanageable pain.
By 7.30 or so pyjamas are eventually wrestled on, dummies deployed, stories read. However, at some stage the most exciting possible occurrence will happen, when ‘Daddy!’ gets home. Daddy knows about the importance of non-rowdy bedtime, but being the boy’s father must thrust him into the air, tickle, pretend-drop him and other hysterical manoeuvres which are fantastically entertaining but not at all conducive to any form of sleep. All of this invariably leads to the small boy standing in his cot singing loudly for the next three hours.
Between 8 and 9, there are a series of incursions into his room to return dummies which have been dropped on the most difficult-to-reach part of the floor, take away beakers of milk and his trousers which he will have removed at some stage and now be being swinging enthusiastically around his head. I have a fantasy that one day I will put him into his cot and he will lie down with whichever cuddly toy he likes best tonight, muttering sweet nothings to his darling mother and drifting off to sleep, but it has yet to occur. Dream on Gina.