I wake up later than usual. It is a weekend, my work alarm hasn’t gone off. I am in that blissful limbo of not knowing what is going on. I know it is later than normal because I check my watch and see it is reading past eight.
Past eight, at the weekend! Something has gone horrible awry.
We have kids, this can’t be a thing. We can’t ‘sleep in’… can we? It doesn’t make sense.
I slowly roll to the side, being sure not to wake the ladyfriend, and listen.
Something woke me, of that I am sure. A noise, some sound. I did not just wake naturally, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what it was that woke me. A normal person would roll back over, try and get more sleep before the kids wake up. But I’m not a normal person, I’m paranoid as hell and now my ears are straining to listen for anything that could have woken me.
The dog isn’t barking, that’s good. People trust alarm systems in their home, I trust Frodo. He sounds like Cerebus when he starts barking and barks at the slightest thing that is out of the norm. How we still have a postman using the letter slot is a mystery. But if the dog isn’t barking, then it isn’t something outside the house. No car door being opened or house alarm going.
I hear it then, but it happen so quickly I’m not sure if I actually heard anything.
The kids are definitely not up. There is no movement from their room at all. No sound of teddies being force fed imaginary tea or a book being bashed against crib bars like a tin cup in a jailhouse cell.
Maybe I’ve finally gone crazy. Crazier? More crazy? The lack of sanity in my skull is a near documented thing at this stage, but still anything is possible.
I definitely hear it this time. There is no mistaking it. This is what woke me. I’m a paradoxical sleeper. I am fairly heavy when I need to sleep and yet after a night of sleeping I’m so light I can hear a pin drop three streets over.
It’s louder this time, but just barely. I get out of bed and tread across the floor quietly. Stepping out onto the landing I wait for a few seconds.
The kids’ room. Whatever it is is coming from in there. I think maybe the smoke alarm battery is going and wonder how we got lucky that the battery is going during the morning time. How often do those things go at 2 a.m.? It’s like a design feature of the bloody things, I’m sure of it.
Stepping into the room I first look at Nugget and find her sitting up, pressed into the corner of her bed, head tilted back. Her beautiful brown eyes lock onto me with a mixture of happiness and pleading.
“Heeh!” she says, barely moving her head.
The reason why she is barely moving her head becomes obvious as my eyes adjust to the gloom of the room. Spreading out from her nostrils, extending just past her top lip, dangling precariously over her open mouth, are two snot-cicles.
What is it with kids? They sneeze and somehow produce these two strings of snot like walrus tusks of slime.
Nugget has a book open on her lap. She obviously has been awake for a while and then the sneeze happened. Like all children she lacks the ability to wipe her own nose and as the snot-cicles formed she just tilted her head back. It’s all like a very strange Bond-esque style death trap. I’ve no idea how long she has been like this, but she has been too afraid to call out for help for fear of dislodging the snot-spikes into her mouth.
“Oh honey,” I say, taking off my night t-shirt and using it to mop up the snot.
I’m a dad…clean sleeping attire is not required in emergencies like this one.
“Phew,” Nugget says, moving her head. “Thank you daddy. I sneezed and then I had snots.”
“I can see that,” I say, kissing her on the cheek. “All clean now.”
The cry is from the youngest. He is standing up in his crib, looking over the rail at me. When did he get so tall, I’ve no idea.
“Morning, buddy,” I say to him, smiling.
Before anything else happens he puts his hand up to his mouth, then sneezes. Not once, not twice…but thrice. Three full on sneezes, with his hand under his nostrils the entire time. As he stops he looks up and smiles at me, then pulls back his hand.
He has given birth to Slimer from Ghostbusters. The hand is covered in green gunk and there are strings of it stretching from face to hand.
“Daddy!” Jellybean says again.
“Oh dear Dagda,” I say, cleaning his hand and face with my snot-shirt.
The glamorous wake up call of the parent, a snot gun salute.