Last night was tough, and served as another reminder, in case I needed one, that being woken in the night is Not My Thing.
LittleBear had a nightmare. "Was it about dinosaurs?", I hear you ask. He does, after all, absorb vast quantities of information about terrifying pre-historic beasts. It was not about dinosaurs. Or sharks. Or tigers. Or saltwater crocodiles. Or any other animal from a wide range of predatory, carnivorous creatures with which he has a fascination. No, he had a nightmare about being eaten by a table. Which I find both sad and sweet at the same time. At 1:30am, I found it mildly exasperating. As is ever the way, I had hurtled out of bed and had my hand on the door before I was even really aware that there was a small voice crying out for his Mummy.
I cuddled my baby, stroked the hair back from his face, and tucked the duvet closer about his warm and dozy body. He was barely awake, but still scared and confused. I reassured him and murmured that all was well, and that he should think about something nice instead while he fell back asleep...
Ten minutes later I was more than mildly exasperated to be summoned back and informed, by a slightly less drowsy child, that "it hasn't worked Mummy. I can't stop thinking about what I don't want to think about". At this point, I did something very, very, very foolish. I suggested he do what I do. I suggested he think about the game we'd been playing today (Bob the Builder and his machines building a giant aquarium to house every species of shark in the world, since you ask), and plan how we'd continue it tomorrow. And the reason this was so foolish? Because it doesn't work for me. In fact, when I wake with a start, or can't sleep, or am worried, and I try and distract my mind by thinking of something interesting or fun, my dear, treacherous brain gets so carried away with the excitement of it all that I gradually become more and more and more awake and alert.
So it shouldn't have been much of a surprise that half an hour later, I was called again, by a bright-eyed, awake, enthusiastic small boy who informed me it was a bit too dark in his room, and could he please have just a little bit more light?
Nor it should have been a surprise when a further ten minutes later, the same small boy summoned me to declare he needed a wee.
By this time, I was basically completely livid. And I'm still proud of myself in a "this is how it feels to be a real grown-up" kind of way, that I did not direct my ire at LittleBear, who continued to get cuddled and loved. Instead I was much more mature, and snapped at BigBear when he offered to help, and mentally cursed him and his own struggles with insomnia as being the entire cause of LittleBear being awake. Nothing whatsoever to do with my stupid suggestion. Because not only am I mature, I'm also entirely rational and reasonable in the middle of the night.
By 2:45, I had LittleBear tucked up in bed again, and I sat on the floor beside him, one arm tucked round him, my head resting on his pillow, feeling the warmth of his breath on my face. I held him close and promised him that I was always there if he needed me, and would always come if he called me, but could he please, perhaps try not to need me for the rest of the night?
And so I went back to bed. And lay awake attempting to list as many different species of shark as I could.
great white, megamouth, tiger, lemon, sand tiger, blue, nurse, grey, black tip reef, white tip reef, oceanic white tip, whale, bonnethead, scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead, goblin, tassled wobbegong, cookie-cutter, bowmouth guitarfish, six gill, seven gill, sweeper, saw, basking, bull, epaulette, leopard, mako, lantern, greenland, spiny dogfish, thresher, horn, angel, porbeagle, swell...*
Because Bob's aquarium needs filling.
* Yes, I have read a LOT of books about sharks with LittleBear.