Coded Letters

I feel like I am Alan Turing these days. Not because I work in the IT industry. Nor because I reckon I am anywhere near as smart as he was (I mean come on the guy was coming up with an insanely complex method to break Nazi codes before computers were even really a thing. That takes next level smarts). No it is because of how Nugget has started her latest after-creche/pre-bed hobby: keeping up with her correspondences.

This might not seem like anything too out there, after all she is a crazy friendly kid. The bit that might be strange about the entire affair, however, is that she can’t write for shit.

I don’t mean in the ‘oh look at the little hipster thinking she is writing the next great Irish novel’ sort of writing…I mean she literally cannot write. They have only started doing letters in her Montessori in the last few months and in typical child-like innocence the shapes are correct, but in random ways. For some reason the ‘L’ in her name is always drawn like a ‘7’, no matter how many times you explain to her why that isn’t the correct way. I even tried getting her to just do a lowercase L instead, which she grasped the concept of pretty quickly. Until I caught her adding a little bit of flare to the top of it when she didn’t think we were looking.

Kids…can’t teach ’em, can’t send them back for a refund.

But why do I feel like Mr. Turing? Well it’s because I have to remember all the crazy stuff she writes down on the paper. You see sometimes these letters are given out to her friends in school…and she then gets back similar scribbles on paper the next day. Sometimes these letters need to be given to the mammy or a grandparent, but of course Nugget has forgotten what the letter is meant to say so it falls to daddy to recall it. Then you get those letters destined for her live-in fairy, Fizzlesticks, but these have to be read out loud before bed because sometimes Fizzlesticks doesn’t read the letter before morning time.

Yep, Nugget has figured out how to ensure that her important thoughts are read by her fairy on the rare occasion mummy and daddy forget to take the letter away before they collapse into bed.

I’m not even sure if Alan Turing would be any good at doing any decryption on these letters, however. Each scribble is identical to the one before, the only difference being the colour of crayon used and where Nugget signs her name.

Still, it is entertaining each night (yes, this is now basically a nightly activity) to see her stretched out on the mat in the kitchen with sheets of paper. Writing away, speaking out the words that she clearly thinks she is writing down. The stories that get shared between herself and her friends are hilariously innocent. If email hadn’t killed the pen-pal star I reckon she would be doing that as a hobby in her teenage years.

A New Fa(mily)d diet

Fad diets are barely a fad anymore. You open up an article online or a newspaper if you happen to be visiting a museum and some new crazy diet is being described. Plant based, because sports types say it is good for recover. Meat based, because butchers don’t like people eating nothing but vegetables. Cut out the carbs….eat nothing but carbs. Have white rice but only on a day that doesn’t end with a ‘y’. The list goes on and on.

I’m here to tell you about a new Fad Diet, one that very few people seem talk about. See the problem with all other diets is that you have to basically cut out something. No meat, or less meat. No bread, despite how that would make it impossible to have a rasher sambo. Cakes have to be avoided…for some insane reason. Pretty much the golden rule of all popular diets is to stop enjoying food.

I know there is probably some valid reason behind it…but dammit I like food.

Anyroad this new diet I am here to tell you about? Kids!

Now, I’m not saying you need to go wandering into the forest and build yourself a gingerbread house in the hope that some kids get lost because their breadcrumbs are being eaten. Mainly because who could afford to build their own bespoke house in Ireland these days? Unless the forest you had in mind was one of those fantastic ones were money grew on the trees.

No, what I am saying is having kids is the best way to lose weight and I am not even touching on the part about how breast feeding burns off loads of calories. This is a diet that applies to parents from all walks of gender.

It is really simple to do. You simply attempt to eat a normal sized meals, ones you have eaten your entire life, in sight of your little bundles of joy. Then, without any prompting, training or instructing, the kids will fill in the rest.

Take, for example, your average yogurt pot. Me, I am a big fan of hazelnut yogurts. I have been since my Nan (the grandmother on me mammy’s side) would get them for me as a treat back in the day. So now they regularly get picked up in the shop. There is about ten teaspoons in each pot, a perfect snack amount if I am being honest. Unless you happen to eat one in front of our two littles. Then those ten spoonfuls have to be doled out among three mouths. Now, I’m no Messiah so that pot doesn’t magically start making more tasty goodness and of course I shared with the kids.

Greedy little shits.

But that’s just a small example of how kids help you lose weight. If they are around you when you are eating then they reduce the size of your portions pretty damn quick. This creates a calorie intake deficit (see, there is even science in this) and you start to lose weight. Want to lose more weight? Increase the number of kids you have around you when you are trying to eat.

There also doesn’t seem to be a way to combat this. Unlike normal diets when you can have a ‘cheat day’ and go off menu, the Kid Diet ensures that cheat days don’t work. For you see in order to cheat you need to eat and if the kids are around they will want what you are eating.

Even trying different eating methods won’t help you. Such as a family dinner time when you all eat at the table together. Forget about it. What will happen here is the kids will want to eat what is on your plate first, even though it is the same food on their plate, or they will wolf down there own food and then come looking for seconds from your plate. Which, of course, a loving parent will give them because the kids are growing but still the little savages are like bottomless pits.

This very morning, before I sat down to type up this little rambling, I even tried two new tricks. I got their breakfast ready first and while they were eating it I set about making my own breakfast (a white pudding sandwich with a good cup of coffee). Right as my breakfast was done the two littles had finished all of their grub. I could sense them looking at me…like wolves waiting for their prey to let down their guard. But I am a hunter-gather somewhere in my family tree…I was ready for them.

Out popped two apples for them to munch on.

The offerings were accepted, the tiny pagan gods appeased.

I finished making my breakfast, poured out the coffee, and went over to the table to have my meal. I swear to Dagda two little heads appeared out of nowhere on either side of me. Drooling at the sight of my food.

“Did you finish your apples?”

“Shop,” the youngest said.

“We don’t have them anymore, daddy,” replied the eldest.

They kept eyeballing my food. I cut the sambo in half, then halved one of the halves. Without even being asked to, little hands swooped in like mutant vultures and grabbed the quarters. Delighted with life they both ran off, munching happily. I wasted no time in devouring my own half of breakfast before they returned.

They always return.

But why had my new tactic to bring in a cheat day to the Kid Diet (a cheat day in this instance being a day you get to eat all your own food yourself) failed this time. As I sipped at my coffee, which thankfully both kids know they will never get to drink so they don’t bother asking about it, I watched the two littles finish their ill-begotten gains. When I saw that I had been outsmarted my two tiny chess masters. Once they had finished the sandwiches, checking my plate with a sneaky glance to ensure there was no more to be stolen, they walked over to a duplo box. Taking off the lid the youngest reached inside, pulled out an untouched apple, and handed it to his sister before reaching in and taking out his own apple.

I had been played, hustled by the two cutest con-artists in the land.

While the weight just continued to fall right off me.

A Study On Naps

There is a joke about Santa Claus specific to parents that I always smile at. It goes like this: There are three stages in a parent’s life. When they believe in Santa, when they don’t believe in Santa and when they become Santa.

It’s as true as true can be. The same joke can apply to naps, however. You just tweak it slightly. It would go something like this: There are three stages in a parent’s life. When they used to take naps, when they get the kid to take a nap and when they fondly remember when the kid took a nap that last longer than fifteen seconds.

Don’t get me wrong, hanging out with the kids at the weekend is a highlight and something that I defend when the world tries its very best to make it not happen. But by whatever imaginary super powered being in the sky you believe in; naps are just brilliant.

See, in the beginning, before parenthood (or PB to use the parental archeological term) naps were a luxury. You might have had a hard week at work, or just been on the lash (that’s getting well and truly intoxicated beyond all human needs for any non-Irish readers) the night before. Energy levels are lower than one of those competing bunny rabbits in a Duracell advert on the telly. You stretch out on the sofa, maybe pull a hoody over like a blanket, or if you are in the pro league you climb the stairs and get back into bed. The eyes are closed and a nap takes place. Good for the body and the soul, setting you up for the rest of the day.

Hell nap time at work would be a wonderful thing…must mention that to my boss.

Anyway, once you have kids you enter a strange limbo place. See at the start you’re zonked from one end of the hour to the next. Sleep deprivation is a thing and if you mainline any more ground up coffee into your nostrils your next sneeze is likely to look like fossilised dino snot. Every bit of advice, from nurses to grandparents to friends to books written by strangers, says the same thing: when baby sleeps the parent should as well.

So that’s what you do. However, this begins a vicious cycle because when baby is awake you can’t really do much other than look after baby. If you are sleeping when baby is sleeping the chores, those pesky things that need to be done in order to maintain a house and stop it turning into a self contained garbage dump, build up. Sure you’ve loads of energy…or rather a bit more than you probably had before the nap…but that doesn’t really help put away the laundry or wash the dishes.

Then comes the fun part…the balancing act. As the kid gets older they need fewer naps. In fact, hilariously, their very own DNA will tell them when to ‘drop’ a nap. What this means to any non-parents reading this (welcome, by the way) is that the kid who used to require two naps a day suddenly only needs one. But they decide, at some genertic level, when this is going to happen.

With no forewarning to the parental unit at all.

Now you’re screwed. Some parents would have gotten into the routine of having a nap during the first nap time and maybe catching up on some of the housework during the second one. But now you’re down to just one nap and it is anyone’s guess as to how long that nap may last. Will you have enough time to put away the washing, but on a new load of dirty clothes, straighten the house out a little, wash and put away the dishes, take that poo you’ve desperately needed to take for five hours but couldn’t because, you know, ‘parenting’?

You’ve to roll the dice and do what you can – ironically all the while using up what little energy you may have gotten left over from the night before. Because that’s your life now, you believe with all your heart that sleep is something you store up in some magical, invisible, container. A well of power that you can pull from whenever you are tired at different points in the week.

It’s a lie…but a lie we all share. So don’t go spoiling it.

Then, right as your ass hits the sofa with a cup of well earned caffinated beverage, you hear it. The siren song of the parent, coming from the baby monitor. The first little grunt that your darling is awake.

You climb the stairs, go into the room, only to be greeted by the smile of your little cherub as they reach out their arms and say ‘Up’. Lifting them from the cot, their little legs wrapping around you, you return to your cooling drinking and take a sip. Five minutes later you sit and wonder how in the Hell a toddler has just undone all your cleaning and returned the house to a chaotic state. Toys are all over the floor, clothes strewn about and their is a faint hint of poop in the air even though nobody has pooped. The walls of your sanity come crashing down, right as the kid climbs up on the sofa beside you, snuggles in, and gives you a big old hug.

And you think to yourself “Screw the house, this is cuddle on the sofa is what it’s all about.”

The Interrogation

I hate circular conversations, they are the worst. Nothing feels more like a complete waste of time than asking the same questions back and forth and getting nowhere.

Circular conversations are the verbal definition of madness: trying to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

“What do you want for dinner?”

“I don’t mind, anything really. Whatever. Honestly I don’t mind, you choose.”

“Ok, let’s get Indian.”

“No I’m not in the mood for Indian.”

“Then what are you in the mood for.”

“I told you, anything at all.”

Scene fades to black as a single gunshot echoes out in the night.

I can’t remember how long we’ve been here, but I know it feels like forever. The interrogation started like they always do: with a question.

“What do you want?”

“Mark.”

“Mark?”

“Shop.”

“We’re not going to the shop, we just got back from the shop.”

“Noooooo.”

The drama in this last part is almost a physical thing. Head thrown back, mouth opened at a strange angle that only sword swallowers can manage in later life. All it does, really, is reset the conversation.

“I said no, we’re not going to the shop.”

“Daddy!”

There is a line about never arguging with a fool, because people outside the conversation may not be able to tell which is which. The same applies to having these types of arguements with a pre-two year old. Using my language skills against those of Jellybean are always going to end in disaster. We speak the same languge, just wildly different dialects.

“I don’t get what you want. Are you hungry?”

“No.”

“Do you want me to play?”

“No.”

“Do you want to play football? We play some football?”

“No.”

“Do you know what you actually want or are you just defaulting to no?”

“No.”

We’ve entered circular conversation mode now. I can feel the small atoms of my remaining sanity disappear into the void. He clearly wants something. He knows that I can get it to him. But neither of us is speaking the same lingo so we are at an impasse.

“You’re not hungry, you don’t want fruit or a cracker?”

He smiles, that devilish little grin he has that I know will cause us trouble in the teenage years. It is a smile that immediately disarms and most of the time gets what he wants. Cuteness on steroids.

“You want a drink?”

“Shop!”

“We’re not going to the bloody shop.”

“Mark.”

“Uncle Mark isn’t here. Do you want juice?”

“No, daddy. No juice.”

I think I have just about grasped the thing he wants. A drink, maybe. He got very excited when I said drink, but I’ll be damned if he is getting into the habit of asking for a drink that requires a trip to the shop. You do that once and they remember forever more. It ain’t happening. Not on my watch.

Picking up a nearby kid cup, I hold it out in front of him.

“Drink, right?”

That smile again. He is happy that the language barrier between our two peoples has broken down slightly.

“Shop!” he says, nodding.

“No shop!” I’m slightly stern with my tone. I need to nip this shop shit in the bud.

“Daddy!” he moans.

“Water?”

“No water.”

“Juice?”

“No juice.”

“Orange juice?”

Both kids call dilutant ‘juice’ but consider orange juice to be something else entirely.

“No juice!”

This is his stern tone now. It sounds like a leprechaun on laughing gas, but at least he tries to be intimidating.

I’m reminded of all the scenes from Indiana Jones were the Nazi’s are asking him questions. They peel off a glove and give him a slap to the face, then repeat the question. Only for child protection services said you’re not allowed to do that sort of thing any more I’d be off looking for my gloves.

“Right,” I said, exasperated and still holding the cup. “You want a drink, right?”

“Shop. Mark, please.”

I’m about to abandon all hope, when the lady friend walks in.

“He wants a drink of milk,” she says, passing through the kitchen like a train of logic en route to different lands.

“What? He never even said anything that sounds like milk.”

“Mark, he uses Mark for milk.”

“Well how the hell was I supposed to know that? Kids need to come with phrase books, each one is different. Is that it, you want a drink of milk?”

He smiles and claps his hands together. The caveman has finally understood.

“Shop!”

“We’re not going to the bloody shop.”

“Shop means yes,” herself shouts in from the living room.

I feel my shoulders sag, defeated by a language barrier of my own creation. Since fifty percent of this cute demon child is me, so he had to get the skills to understand from somewhere.

“One milk, coming up.”

“Thank you, daddy,” he says, taking the cup of milk from me and running away delighted with life.

I update my mental Rosetta Stone for future conversations and continue cleaning the kitchen.

Kitchen Kick-about

The first rule about kitchen kick-about is: you don’t tell mummy about kitchen kick-about.

Most folk that no me longer than five minutes are aware of my dislike for all things related to football. I can’t stand watching it on telly,  so much falling over blades of grass with more drama than you’d see in a Shakespearean play. Not to mention the total lack of respect for the ref, I mean what is that all about?

Then there is my utter inability to play the game. My hand-eye-foot co-ordination is utterly atrocious, I wasn’t built for that sort of sport. I can run pretty well, but that’s not much use when you need to kick a ball.  This all means that I never enjoy playing the ‘sport of kings’, because I completely suck at it.

Along comes Jellybean, the little ray of chaos in the sunshine of my day. He, for some reason, absolutely loves all things football related. One time when we were out for a family meal he spotted a match on the overhead screen and was glued to it. The lad isn’t even two and he would not take his eyes off the match. I’m not sure he even knew what the rules were, but it got us thirty minutes of silence to eat our food so that’s a win. But when we’re at home he is constantly asking me to play football with him.

Now, Jellybean isn’t so great with the words just yet but he does know how to get his request across to the adults. He walks up to them with the football and then puts it down on the ground, doing a little run up to the ball before kicking it. You get the message pretty quickly.

Being a modern dad I know that you need to overlook somethings when it comes to parenting; so if the little lad wants a kick-about with his old dad then a kick-about with his old dad is what he will get. After dinner we put the ball down between us and kick it back and forth for nearly twenty minutes. He loves it. There are screams of pure joy as it sails past him and he has to chase it. When he lines up his next shot there is the low battle cry of a child in his element.

We’re not playing out in a field. It is indoor football. There are walls, tables and counters to factor into all your kicks. This let’s me get a little creative with how I try and send my shot past the youngster. I don’t have to worry about a straight line, I can bounce it off the back of a chair then into a wall.

Basically we play pinball football in an unspoken attempt to mask just how poor my kicking skills really are.

To be honest I secretly love these little sessions, because I never thought I’d have them with anyone in my life. But what they do, sometimes, is make me forget how shit I am at football. In particular kick-abouts. It isn’t everyday that I get the phrase ‘No ball in the house!’ shouted at me, let alone from my wife.

The hilarious bit of that is when Jellybean stops dead in his tracks and puts his hand up to his mouth, looking at me in faux shock.

Of course that doesn’t stop us having our nightly little kick-about sessions. Only the other night we had one, but the dinner dishes hadn’t been cleaned away when we started it. Forgetting for a second that I was not, nor ever had been, a good footballer, I put a bit more mustard on my kick than I should have. It bounced off a wall, crashed into a chair, then flipped up onto the table and sent a glass of water flying through the air. Luckily the glass didn’t break, but water did spray the wall nicely like some sort of sucky modern art installation.

I stopped in my tracks and looked down at Jellybean. He was staring at the wall, hand to his face in the faux shock position.

When he clearly remembered the modified first rule of kitchen kick-about: you don’t tell mummy about kitchen kick-about, unless it was daddy who caused the carnage to take place.

Without a second thought the little Judas was running past me out into the hallway, declaring at the top of his little lungs “Mummy! Daddy spilled water!”.

I guess there is a lesson in all this, even for me. The first rule of kitchen kick-about is important, but there is a rule before it that nobody speaks of. That maybe, just maybe, these little sessions are something which the kids will carry with them fondly for the rest of their lives.

If that isn’t worth a few glasses of spilled milk, nothing is.

Snot Son Salute

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.

“Heh…”

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.

“Heeh…”

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.

“Heeh…”

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.

“Heeh….”

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.”

“DADDY!”

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.

It’s The Job

You never interview before becoming a parent. Sure, in most cases, when you hear of the dead beat parents out their that should do better by their kids, you think to yourself “Maybe you should have to interview before becoming a parent.”. After all you don’t need a lot in the way of qualifications to be a parent (regardless of how the kids appear in your life) but you do need to be capable to ‘parent’ once you take on the responsibility of tiny little lives.

As usual, pestilence and plague have landed in our house and it is doing the rounds between the four of us. As even more usual, Nugget is the one worst hit with it all. With her bronchomalacia any sort of cold, flu, sneeze, basically becomes a hundred times worse. We get her over the first illness, but then she develops this horrible whore of a cough that we can’t get rid of. She has inhalers, we get steroids to help her, but effectively we have to ride it out. Which is grand and all, except she coughs so much she will get sick, her throat becomes a war ground of pain and she barely sleeps.

And as any parent knows, when your kids don’t sleep you don’t sleep either.

Over the years we’ve investigated and tried various things to try and sort it out for her sooner, but nothing seems to work. We have some tricks that help alleviate the problem, but nothing that resolves the cough so she is back to fighting form. It is one of the downsides of having a great creche. Nugget loves going to creche to see the staff and her friends, a fairly ringing indictment that the creche is doing a fantastic job if the kids can’t wait to go there. But if some kid brings anything at all in we are at Def Con Cough in the house because it is a waiting game for Nugget to catch the bug, then have her cough flare up.

It’s a pain in the ass.

As she is in the middle of a cough bout right now, we’re doing the usual. Meds, fluids, sacrifices to long forgotten gods for better health. Nothing is working, as usual. The poor girl is exhausted. In order to get her to sleep we put her in the parental bed and opened the window.

Cold air helps. I guess it helps with the throat and cause less irritants or something. I dunno, I’m not a doctor. All I know is it works and she can get over. The only problem is that it means she cannot sleep in her own bed as she currently shares a room with her little brother. We don’t want him getting a cold, because that’s just shooting ourselves in the foot. We’d no doubt just get her sorted and next thing he is down with a cold and we are playing countdown again.

Typically when we do this cold air trick it isn’t that big a deal, one of us sleeps with her and the other sleeps in the spare room. But we had guests over during this session so the spare room was gone.

“I’ll sleep on the floor,” I said, getting a spare blanket from the hotpress.

“No, I will,” herself says.

I smile.

“I’ve a bad back and an ability to sleep anywhere, the floor is grand. You won’t be able to sleep on the floor then I will have to listen to you complain about being tired the next day.”

This is met with a dirty look and a slap to the head with a pillow. Uncalled for, maybe, but it is an indication that we haven’t reached breaking point yet if we can joke like this.

“Get into the bed beside us,” herself says. “The bed is big enough.”

It’s true. Recently the CEO of the Marriage informed the CFO that a new bed was required. Apparently a double bed just isn’t big enough, you need a Gaza strip between the sheets to allow for wedded bliss sometimes. I look over at the starfish child that is taking up two thirds of the bed and shake my head.

I don’t want to risk waking her. She has been asleep for about two hours now, cold air clearly helping, and if I get in there will be mattress earthquakes that will disturb her from much needed slumber. The ladyfriend weighs about the same as an angel’s feather, so she is the better option to get into bed.

I take a spare pillow and toss it down on the ground beside the bed. I lie down, sausage rolling in the duvet since I don’t have to share for a change, and take up my place at the foot of the bed like a giant deformed guard dog. Herself stands near my head, looking down at me.

“You’re serious?” she asks.

I’m not sure why, we’re together long enough for her to know just how stubborn I can get. Particularly when I want to ensure my sick family members are comfortable.

“Go on,” I said, snuggling into the pillow and finding the floor strangely comfortable. “It’s grand, honest. Sure it’s part of the job.”

A job that I wouldn’t change for the world, although the terms and condition around sick periods could be improved a bit if possible.