So once again LittleBear has an annoying, dry cough. It manifests as single, loud, percussive cough, followed by a pause of several minutes, before being repeated. This can continue for up to an hour. Now why, I hear you ask, is this so annoying? It's annoying because it only happens at night. That's right. It starts up at about bath-time and then occurs instead of falling asleep, or ideally in the middle of the night, or perhaps first thing in the morning. And I really do mean first thing. I mean the kind of first thing when it's still bloody dark outside. The kind of first thing where it's just close enough to actual, real, daylight morning that LittleBear does not go back to sleep after waking.
Last night, The Cough (I always think of it capitalised like this) started at 1:15am. This is the kind of time of night that exists solely to remind me why I am not having another child. This is the time of night that I am supposed to have left well behind. Given a choice, I would refuse to acknowledge that this time of night actually exists. Being the devoted mother that I am, I did not stomp into the room saying,
"shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up!"
Which naturally is what I really wanted to do. Instead I informed my LittleBear that he was not ill, did not need to cough and really he should try not to. Yes, really, that did seem like a productive gambit at 1:15am with a not-quite-four-year-old. I've really cracked this mothering lark haven't I? As I watched his little face and body convulse as he tried desperately to do as he was told I realised that I was wrong, I was being an absolutely lousy mother. So I gave him some water, a spoon of Tixylix and a lot of cuddles. None of which stopped him from coughing, but at least I didn't feel like some kind of maternal monster.
LittleBear did (finally) stop coughing and appear to be back at sleep by about 2am. Which wasn't too bad. I, however, was not asleep. Oh no. I was lying awake, with my shoulders tensed up somewhere around my ears. I lay willing my muscles to relax, until I realised that my forehead muscles were so tense I was giving myself a headache. Who even knew that was possible? I genuinely could not work out how to control my forehead muscles to make them not tense.
And once I was really thoroughly tense, awake and crabby, my mind really went to town on whose fault it was that I was lying awake. Because obviously it had to be someone's fault. It couldn't just be one of those things, a passing phase, a minor infection or irritation. No, as with all bad things that ever happen with LittleBear, especially when I think about them in the night, this one is permanent, here to plague me for-absolutely-ever, here to keep me awake at night until I descend into a morass of psychotic sleep-deprivation. And you know who else has a nervous cough? A dry, repetitive cough that bears no relation to any actual physical ailment? BigBear does. And so does GrandmaBear. That's it. It's hereditary. LittleBear has an inherited annoying throat-clearance. And he's going to do it FOREVER. He's going to stop me sleeping from now until he leaves home. It will be a miracle if I survive the next 14 years. And it's all their fault. I've married into a defective family and they're all conspiring to stop me sleeping. (My mind was, at this point, conveniently glossing over the fact, that LittleBear had by now been back asleep for an hour, BigBear was also soundly asleep, and the only thing keeping me awake was my own mind. Not the Bear family's entirely fictitious hereditary cough, but my own deranged mind.)
It's quite surprisingly how utterly absurd this can sound here and now, compared to how real, rage-inducing and tension-making it is in the middle of the night.
Before I go to bed tonight I think I might have to find my mp3 player and make sure I've got the meditation tracks on it. It's either that or bludgeon BigBear with a cuddly bunny rabbit in the dark of the night. You're right. Bunny rabbit it is.