Last night I put Mabel to bed. I read chapter two of Harry Potter and tucked her in and kissed her good night and clambered down off her loft bed that she has recently inherited from her brother and went downstairs, congratulating myself on how she can fall asleep on her own now. I put the kettle on and looked for the chocolate hob nobs.
The noise of the kettle stopped me from hearing the thud and the patter, but after a couple of minutes I was stirring a mug of instant decaf and realised I was hearing one extra voice upstairs where B was reading Sherlock Holmes to Dash.
I went back upstairs, where Mabel was making herself a nuisance, of course, not just sitting down quietly to listen to Doctor Watson’s Victorian meanderings. She wailed. She protested. She said she had to have a thumb war with Daddy before she could leave the room. Daddy said he would have a thumb war in her room, but that was not to be borne. She was summarily ejected.
She collapsed in a heap on the carpet in the hallway. Logic was long gone. Nothing was reasonable. Nothing could be ever okay. I brought her into her room, but her heels were dug into the floor ahead of her all the way. “I can’t touch my be-e-e-e-e-d.”
“Okay. You can lie down on the rug instead.”
Sometimes she’s like a Japanese businessman. I mean, she just can’t lose face. She has to believe that she won, or that I didn’t win, no matter how twisted the logic of the end result may be. So she lay down on the fluffy purple rug in her bedroom, and I put her red fleece blanket over her and a pillow under her head.
“The problem is, I’m not ti-i-i-i-erd.”
“I know.” I sat on the rug at her head, but she wouldn’t let me stroke her hair.
About three minutes later I stood up and left the room. She stayed there on the floor until I came up to bed an hour later and moved her to her bed. This morning she told me that she hadn’t fallen asleep all night. Only twice.
Once for five hours and once for four, I’d say.