25 Sep Why Don’t Children Stay in Their Bed?
Sleep-deprived dad, Ken Williams, says it’s time for his son to stay in his own bed.
I love my son – we make a great team. He’s four years old and so much fun to be around. We share a love of watching television, eating pizza, and blowing lemonade through a straw while laughing as the bubbles shoot up our nostrils.
However, life isn’t always lemonade and bubbles.
At three o’clock this morning, my son ventured into bed with his mother and me. I wouldn’t have minded, except he brought Teddy, Dinosaur and Monkey with him. Arms, legs and elbows flew in all directions as we all jostled for best position. Moments later, I hung off the edge of the bed clinging for dear life to the last thread of doona, while my son slept soundly. A tiny foot dug into my backbone.
I thought of sitting up and moving the foot, or moving my son back to his own bed. Truth be told, I was too tired and I didn’t want to wake him – he had Preschool in a few hours. There’s also a huge part of me that loves having Max so close. I clung to the edge of the bed wondering if I’d ever get to sleep and manage to block out the pain of the foot that was digging into my backbone. Mostly I wondered how this had become my life.
The last four years had gone so fast, and in such a blur, that the only thing I knew for sure was that I was no longer king of my castle. If anything, I was a personal chauffeur to an endless parade of birthday parties, swimming lessons, football, Preschool and school orientation events. Toys have invaded my living room, bathroom and bedroom. My garage was full of prams, cots and old baby clothes. My once mighty 65-inch, footy-emitting fantasy screen now only runs cartoons – over and over – and that foot in my back was really hurting.
I wriggled my body and the foot actually moved to a more comfortable spot on my upper back, but now I was wide awake and deep in thought. I reminisced back to a time when my son was only a few months old lying on a blanket in the lounge room, and the hours spent watching him. I recalled his first actual laugh (a real cackle that shook my world), and weekends spent in the park eating fish and chips and laughing, playing, reading picture books, kicking the footy, and most recently, seeing his joyous little face light up as he headed off to Preschool – bag almost bigger than him hurled over his shoulder – then coming home with artwork to stick on the fridge. Suddenly I felt guilty worrying about a little foot in my back. I realised I wouldn’t swap this life for the world.
There’s always room in my bed for my son.
The foot rolled back down onto my backbone – ouch!
Around four o’clock I closed my eyes. Six o’clock the electric rooster rattled and a beam of light burst through the curtains and onto my pillow. That foot was still in my back and it hurt like crazy. It was time to get up. I leaned forward, looked across and saw my son curled up with his mum way over the other side of the bed. I realised that the foot in my back didn’t belong to Max at all. I turned around completely and there was Teddy looking all smug and well rested – and why wouldn’t he? He’d been using my backbone as a footstool all night.
“That’s it!” I shouted. “Everybody sleeps in their own beds. No more toys. I’m reclaiming my garage. My TV. I’m taking my life back and I’m serious!” I boomed. My wife mumbled something incoherent and my son just kept sleeping.
I was serious. Starting this weekend, I’m officially reclaiming my life…just as soon as we get home from football…and Jessica’s party. That reminds me, Max’s birthday is coming up soon. I’ll have to clean out the garage to make room for some games, organise some prizes, get lolly bags and pick up a cake.
Words by Ken Williams