I'm sure you all know this feeling as parents - a toddler who takes longer to settle for bed than your actual working day.
Your joint stress energy as parents may provide enough electricity to power a large town, but you're a sleep-deprived dribbling zombie whose eyes have ceased to function and you both work long full time hours to fund your toddler's Cheerios and pasta obsession.
Occasionally, you simply can't be bothered with a specific evening 'routine' and sporadically (if your dwindling sense of humour permits), you'll see the funny side of what these small humans do.
The day to day
After a fun day at my parents' for our daughter, my mum provides me with the 'guarantee-of-an-easy-ride-for-us-to-settle-her-to-bed-tonight' sentence.
"She'll sleep well tonight", explains Mum, "she's not had a nap today."
Makes no difference, mother. But thanks.
Our usual routine? There isn't always a rigid one, because each evening is different with respect to timings with all of us returning home at different times. (work, childcare, Southern Rail strikes, etc.).
But an average evening consists of returning from work; squeezing in kisses and cuddles, preparing and cooking our family meal; shoving it down our throats and scoffing a Petit-Filous yoghurt - in less time than a Peppa Pig episode.
Once the war-zone of dinner is finished, we move on to the bath-teeth-pyjamas-cartoon-book-bed combo. Or is it book-teeth-pyjamas-cartoon-bed-bath? I don't know. I'm knackered. Is it legal to put your pyjamas on and go to bed before you have a bath?
Bed... that word starts a detailed conversation between parents and small humans where the small human deploys the 'book of tricks at delaying bedtime'.
Parent: "Time for bed, now".
Small Human: "Drink"
Parent: "You just finished your drink. C'mon, time for bed, say goodnight to mummy".
Small Human: "No".
You allow a few extra minutes for peacekeeping purposes. There is a momentary ceasefire.
Parent: "Time for bed, now".
Small Human: "Read book".
Parent: "We just read every book that has ever been written. C'mon, time for bed, say goodnight to mummy".
An hour later she finally settles and we're left feeling like we're in the middle of a scene from Eastenders. She's asleep. Gone. Finished for the day. We both breathe and catch up with our smartphone scrolling whilst she is entering a sleep deeper than the Mariana Trench.
Well that's what we thought.
It was just a nap.
A. F*****g. Nap.
The end of the illusion
50 minutes after settling, feet are heard scampering across the landing whilst we sit on our sofa not talking and dribbling. We both acknowledge her footsteps with a strange mutual stare to one another, but we refuse to move - probably paralysed by tiredness, our vital organs slowing down inside our body.
We hear the stairs creek as the littl'un embarks on her descent. The sound of a toddler walking nervously down stairs is frightening to say the least. A couple of footsteps accompanied with a creek. Then nothing for 10 seconds. Is it ACTUALLY her? She continues her descent and reaches the bottom of our meteor crater. We're in the know, because we can now see shadows appearing around the corner of our living room door.
We want to get up and re-direct her to her room but we're either still paralysed by tiredness or scared sh*tless with the prospect our house is actually home to a poltergeist.
What do we do now? This is the 7000th evening in a row this has happened.
We need a plan. A complex military operation to beat this.
There is momentary silence from both of us. No movement from our daughter and we are both sitting on the sofa like a couple of loons wondering who is going to make the first brave move to end the situation. We're in a standoff.
We catch a glimpse of her as she nervously edges closer into our living room, shuffling her feet on the carpet. She is holding her slippers, her dressing gown and a monkey. She resembles a builder carrying a load of bricks across a building site.
It was so adorable, and we both know that we should have nipped it in the bud at an earlier stage, but sometimes you just don't. You just need to laugh.
Then she farted.Suggest a correction