Amy Jane is excited; her very best friend Amy ‘J’ is coming over for a play date. Amy J is everything that ‘my’ Amy isn’t. That is; she is small, quiet and well behaved. I’m not sure why they are such good friends, but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Amy J does whatever Amy Jane tells her to, and follows her around like a little lamb.
Anyway, I have been using ‘Amy J is coming’ as both carrot and stick. “If you are naughty, Amy J won’t come!”. “If you stay in bed all night, Amy J will be here in the morning!” That kind of thing. And it has kind of worked, apart from the staying in bed all night thing. I am at my wits’ end with the night time wanderings. Every night at 11:30pm Amy Jane wakes up shouting from a nightmare. Because I now sleep on a knife edge waiting for it to happen, I am in her room in a second, and have her soothed and back to sleep within minutes, before she has the chance to fully come to and get out of bed. That I can kind of cope with, even though I spend the evening waiting for it to happen, and then the next hour panicking that she will come wandering in. Then I sleep with my teeth clenched, stressed that she will arrive at my bedside, and even if she doesn’t, I feel like I have spent the night in a trench, waiting for the enemy to appear.
I have had one full night’s sleep in a month, which explains the baggy face, or ‘trench face’ as I now call it. Daddy has been away with work for a few weeks, with only one night at home, and that was the night I packed myself off to the spare room and slept like the dead. Not very romantic, but needs must, and I felt like I’d had a week’s holiday in the Bahamas after a full eight hours.
Anyway, today is the day of Amy J’s visit, and last night I put a tired Amy Jane to bed with threats of the whole thing being called off if she didn’t stay in bed all night. She promised me cheerfully that she would, and snuggled down with a happy “Night night Mummy, I love you!” which gave me hope. Unfounded hope, as the 11:30 yelling continued as normal, after which I lay with clenched teeth and a streaming cold, willing myself to sleep. I slept fitfully with my eyes shut but my ears wide open, and heard every restless sigh of the dog downstairs, whoosh of cars driving past and eventually, the pad-pad-pad of Amy’s footsteps down the corridor. It was 4am when she arrived at the side of the bed and announced that it was time to get up.
“No Amy, it’s too early to get up. Back to bed.”
“Yes” (firmly). “Do you want me to ring Amy J’s mummy and tell her she can’t come because you’ve been naughty?”
“Well go back to bed then.”
“Hurrumph! I will!”
And off she flounced. By now my sinuses were throbbing and I had tissue stuffed up my streaming nose. It was a VERY good job the other half was away, as it wasn’t a good look.
The next two hours went roughly like this:
Amy flounces in.
“Is it time for Amy J to come yet?”
Stomps back to her room. Fifteen minutes later:
“Is it morning yet?”
Sigh. Walks back to her room, via a noisy and stressful to listen to trip to the toilet, where it sounded like she did a wee, used a mountain of loo roll, flushed, washed her hands and went back to bed.
Thump thump thump. “Now can we go downstairs?”
“But I want to!”
“No. Go back to your room.”
Sigh. Stomp. Clatter of unspecified toys being pulled out of cupboards. Singing. Possible dressing up. Muttering. Banging.
“Can I get dressed now?”
I check the clock. It is 5:30am.
By 6am we are downstairs, with Amy dressed in all her favourite things – namely spotty socks, sparkly trousers, net skirt and a T-shirt with Princess written on it. She is skipping with excitement that in four hours time her friend will be arriving. How do I explain that technically she hasn’t stayed in bed all night as the night wasn’t quite finished when she got up? It doesn’t compute, a ‘bit early’ is not the same as getting up in the night. Sigh. I brew a coffee and take a Beechams.
By 7:30am it is light enough for her to play outside, and as it feels like mid-morning I help her on with her wellies and coat, and open the back door to let her and Jackson rush out. I sneak off for a quick shower, and by the time I get out, I can hear her muttering to herself downstairs about putting her wellies away in the cupboard, even though they are a ‘bit wet’. Then she appears in the bedroom as I’m getting dressed, and she is also a ‘bit wet’. Soaked through in fact.
“What happened Amy?!”
“I got wet.” Duh, Mummy.
“With the hose.” In February. At 7:30am. Hmm.
I get her dried and changed and then let her help me strip the sheets off my bed and carry them downstairs like a ‘big girl’. I open the door to the utility room, and step onto a sopping wet floor. The cat’s bed appears to be floating on a wave of water. What the? How can the washing machine have leaked when I haven’t put it on yet? My brain whirs in the way that only a mother, or perhaps a top secret agent can. Wet floor, washing machine off, Amy was wet, Amy used the hose...
“Amy, did you put the hose through the cat flap?”
“Err...” Her guilty face answers my question.
“Amy Jane! WHY?!” I throw the sheets onto the soaking wet floor and begin mopping it with my duvet cover.
“I don’t know.”
“Didn’t you think that it would make everything wet?”
“I didn’t think Mummy. I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to!”
She actually has the grace to look upset. Then I realise why.
“Please can Amy J still come over!”
What could I say? We had both been up for four hours now, waiting for the arrival of this little girl. To cancel it now would have potentially made this the longest day in the history of the world.
“Just help me mop it up Amy. And promise me you’ll never do anything like this again. OK?”
She did. And little Amy J arrived and they spent the day in a flurry of fairy wings, making fairy cakes and fairly good behaviour. Finlay also had a play date over, he and Monty spent the day building dens with booby traps and alarms to keep out girls.
And I kept out the way to nurture my cold and gather my strength for the night shift. There may have been two Amy J’s in the house during the day, but one of mine at night is enough for anyone to be getting on with!