A Gallery of Sleep Positions with My Children

My sleep is regularly disturbed by my sons. In spite of this I am continually impressed by their ingenuity and imagination when it comes to their nightly manoeuvres. I’ve paid tribute to the inspiring variety of their positions with a series of sketches. It’s not quite a retrospective because we continue to co-sleep.

I’ve ended with the position that hasn’t actually happened yet, but it’s the position I fear the most:

The Reverse Spoon
The Reverse Spoon

The Rugby Post
The Rugby Post

The Cravat
The Cravat

The Trampoline
The Trampoline

The Landgrabber
The Landgrabber

The Cat
The Cat

The Koala
The Koala

The Conjoined Twins
The Conjoined Twins

The Superhero Cape
The Superhero Cape
And this one…

The 'Where Is He?'
The ‘Where Is He?’
Any good?

Why Some Toys are Harder to Get Rid of than Others

Sophie looked at me with her big black eyes as I took hold of her neck. Her face seemed to say “please, don’t let it end this way”. But my mind was made up. She had been essential to our family but she now had outlived her use. Into the bin bag she went. She probably ended up at the landfill. We didn’t even recycle her or donate her, not with all the bitemarks and historic spittle.

The demise of Sophie the teething giraffe was part of a calculated cull of toys that my wife and I carried out recently. Previously our playroom was grotesquely overstocked. If its inhabitants came magically to life like they do in the Toy Story films then the room would be like a sprawling slum, tote-box tenements rising and tottering from the floor. All the crash and bash of Victoria Station at rush hour, a thousand tiny dinosaurs and Playmobil figurines stampeding to the entrance of the Happyland line, treading on each other and calling each other wankers.

So we decided to carry out an audit of the toys that had become useless to us. Most of which were the unworkable foam bits that come attached to CBeebies magazines. Seriously, they should fix actual litter to the covers and save us all the bother of attempting to play with it.

It occurs to me that this kind of operation will become more difficult in the future, when the toys are bigger and more animate, and our children’s (and my) attachments to them are firmer. When I say this I am mainly thinking about Graham.

Graham came to us from Costco. Graham is a ludicrous outsized teddy bear with a similar stout stature to a rugby prop forward or Lou Carpenter. I am ashamed to say that at first I mocked him. He used to just lie there looking like the lifeless body of Bungle from Rainbow. A big silly giant floundering about among all the normal-sized toys.

In the weeks after his arrival I got to know Graham and discover what Graham was all about. One afternoon the boys were playing in the room and I became overwhelmed with post-lunch fatigue. There was Graham, arms wide waiting to envelop me in warm open embrace. There is no judgement from Graham, just a shoulder to rest my tired head on. Sometimes Graham will take all us all into his cuddle and listen on silently as we read our stories. And if the boys decide to use him as a climbing frame or a urinal then Graham accepts it uncomplainingly.

So much love for Graham
So much love for Graham
But a day will come when we will usher Graham into retirement, when he is replaced by a snooker table or a PlayStation. I cannot face throwing him away but I don’t think I could evict him to the attic either. To live a hermit’s life among the cobwebs and the loft insulation. Besides I might forget he was up there and he’d scare the shit out of me; I might think Lou Carpenter has gone loopy and hidden up there.

I would hope that we can offer Graham a new existence, perhaps with a new deserving owner via a charity shop. I know someone who had to depart with their own gigantic teddy in this way, but their daughter insisted that at least the bear should be driven there in the front passenger of the car with a seatbelt.

That seems fair enough me. In fact I regret not strapping Sophie into the front seat and taking her straight to the landfill.

 

Any good?

A Mildly Miffed Letter To a Train Company

My youngest son is a big fan of trains. The older one quite likes trains too. To be honest after some years of commuting I’ve gone off trains, particularly as one tried to eat me:

Dear Sir or Madam

I am writing to complain about an incident which occurred while disembarking one of the 0835 from King’s Cross at Grantham station on Monday, 7 November. Around 50 of my colleagues and I were attending a ceremony to celebrate long service at a country hotel not far from Grantham and had travelled up from Kings Cross that morning.

The doors opened as usual once the train had pulled to a halt in the station. I was already stood in the area by the toilets waiting to step off the train. I allowed a lady to disembark first and then followed her off the train. To my surprise the doors closed as I was leaving the train and struck me on the neck. Gladly I was not decapitated by this as it may have put a dampener on my day out. If I’d have turned up at the hotel without a head then I would not have been able to enjoy the tea and shortbread that was served on arrival. Disregarding the shortbread and thinking more about long-term strategy, my head and body have worked well together as team previously and it certainly would have been a shame not to be able to continue with this arrangement.

It may also have had a negative impact on my marriage if I’d have returned home without a head. My head is one of the reasons my wife fell in love with me. God knows it wasn’t my body. I also think that my employers may have looked upon it dimly had I shown up to work without a head; it would negatively affect my capacity to fulfil my duties properly and also look a bit scruffy.

I’m being facetious. I can’t pretend that the impact of the door even hurt. But it was a shock. And I have a strong virile neck. If I was a little frail old lady with a little frail old neck then the ramifications could have been more serious.

Happily for me, the doors opened again and I was able to step down onto the platform. I was one of the lucky ones. Most of my colleagues were sat in a different carriage and had diligently gathered their luggage and queued to leave the train as it was pulling into the station. Unfortunately some at the back of queue were unable to leave before the doors closed again, this time permanently. 14 ladies made an unscheduled trip to Doncaster. I’ve heard that Doncaster is lovely in late autumn, but when there is tea and shortbread promised on arrival at a hotel near Grantham then it’s not the ideal destination. Happily they were able to turn around and return to Grantham in time for lunch (rice, new potatoes, a selection of cold cuts).

Again I’m being facetious, but again there could have more serious implications. If a family had been disembarking and the children were allowed to get off first the doors may have closed behind them, temporarily orphaning them and sending their parents to Doncaster. The children would have been left to fend for themselves on the mean streets of Grantham with no-one to look after them but a little old lady with no head. Sorry, facetious again. Can’t help it.

When we remonstrated with the station guard he explained that there was nothing he could do. Apart from not blow his whistle perhaps. He offered nothing by way of apology. Perhaps he had a shiny new whistle which he couldn’t wait to blow. Or maybe he simply couldn’t conceive that 50 people actually wanted to get off the train to visit Grantham. He said that all passengers should be ready to disembark before the doors open – which is fine until 30 people want to step off the same carriage. They’re not circus performers, they can’t all get off at once.

One of the Doncaster crew spoke to the train attendant who explained that stations are fined if they keep the train in the station too long. If this is true then I would suggest that the guidelines are eased slightly to allow for common sense to be applied and to allow 50 people who just want to get off the train and eat a little bit of shortbread.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts

Kind regards

Any good?