This is Part 1 of Daddy’s Bedtime Adventure (you can read Part 2 Here & the final chapter, Part 3 Here)

This story is based on actual events …


It had been a long hot, sunny Friday, but there I was stuck in my air-conditioned office writing a code of conduct as part of our internal processes. As far as I was concerned sitting at my desk in an artificial climate, it may as well have been raining outside. After all, work is work, the office is the office, and the sun was outside – I wasn’t. Then just as I was considering a very strong coffee to see me through the excitement of writing the remaining sections of a code that no one would bother to read, my phone went beep. I flicked on the screen and was greeted with a reminder text from my other half.

“Just wanted to say I’m off to meet the girls now. Try and relax this evening. Pass my love to the kids. Love you loads. xxx”

She was off for a spa and chill weekend with her three friends. They have known each other since they were kids, so the bond is strong. They are all celebrating their fortieth birthdays this year, so it was to be a weekend of massage and merriment. The only upside to this for me was that I was leaving the office a little earlier than usual on a Friday so that I could collect our two kids, Fidget & Little Man.

Daddy's Bedtime Adventure

It was a mere hour or so later that I found myself squeezed onto a Central Line cattle car with lots of other tired, frustrated and hot commuters. I reached for my Kindle, but due to the crush, the best I could do was wedge my forearm against my chest and some guy’s back, which placed the Kindle within about an inch of my eyes. Blurred vision. The press of the crowd was too much and too close for me to be able to focus on the words. I gave up trying to read my book and resigned myself to reading the adverts lined along the curve of the carriage wall above the commuters heads, whilst listening to the monotonous rattle and hum of the underground. It’s at moments like this that we tend to have those random inner conversations with ourselves. And as I have mentioned before, my inner-self can be a little sarcastic and unsupportive. He also tends to lie in wait just to wind me up; especially at times like this when I’m hot and bothered, and focussed on nothing much in particular.

So what’s on the agenda this evening, old man? The ‘old man’ salutation is my inner-voice’s standard greeting these days, and has been since Fidget arrived on the scene when I was in my fiftieth year.
‘Pizza. We’re going to have pizza. Then the kids are having an early night.’ Pizza was now a rarity because mum doesn’t really do pizza. Early nights were as rare as pizza because the kids were as stubborn about early nights as their mum was about us having pizza.
What about Fidget & Little Man?
‘They’ll be fine with a slice of pizza. Anyway, Fidget will have had dinner at after school club, and Little Man will have eaten at nursery. The pizza will be a bonus for them. They’ll run it off tomorrow.’
Are you sure mum will be okay with that?
‘She’ll be fine.’
‘Probably not. But there you go.’ Mum likes healthy food; I like some stodge from time to time.
You can always put it down to senility when she finds out. ‘When she finds out’ was the key phrase here. If she finds out wasn’t worth considering. Mummy always finds out. Fidget will always shoot me in the foot by telling mummy about anything we did she thought was dodgy. Fidget is one of those kids who’s happy to go against the rules just so long as she can blame daddy for the infraction. Such is life.

The pick-up with the kids went fine and we made our slow way home. Little Man dictated the pace, whilst commenting on every big red bus, van, car and bike he saw. Dragging along behind, Fidget made plain her intentions for the weekend ahead without mummy.
“We can go to bed late, daddy,” she said in her sweetest voice. “We can have lots of treats tomorrow as well.”
You’re going to struggle getting them to bed early. Are you sure you want a late night with the kids, old man? Your recovery rate isn’t what it used to be, and they’ll be a pain in the arse tomorrow! My inner-self had made a valid point. I needed to nip this in the bud.
“I’ll tell you what, Fidget, once we’ve had pizza, you’d best be getting to bed. You’ll need a good night’s sleep, we have a busy day tomorrow. You’ve got your dance class in the morning, remember?”
“It’s not just dancing, daddy,” she said with exasperation, “we do singing and acting too. We are going to be singing …”
I drifted away from her voice and allowed it to join the white noise of the traffic as I started to consider the evening and weekend ahead. Then Little Man, tugging at my hand, brought me back to the present.
“Daddy, daddy, daddy.” There was never a coherent follow up to this, just a two year old’s babble that was intended to get my attention. I looked down and he smiled up at me. I smile back. He beamed. Strolling with the kids at my side was one of my favourite things.
You won’t be smiling tonight when you have to put them both to bed. How’re you going to manage that, old man? How’re you going to be in two places at once?
In my head bedtime would be the worst part of mummy going away. Even though I normally did bedtime most nights, tonight was going to be a pain because both kids always wanted daddy to take them to bed. But it was going to be a juggle without mummy’s support. Leaving one of them to their own devices whilst I sorted out the other was not an option. Normally I would take Fidget first. We would read a book, have a little chat then she would settle. Meanwhile, mummy would keep Little Man distracted enough so that he didn’t miss me, because if he realises I’m in with Fidget, he will storm through the house like a mini tornado shouting “My daddy! My daddy!” Bedtime was going to be a pain … Or was it?
It won’t work. You’re living in dreamland!
‘Yes it will, I’ll let them stay up. They’ll fall asleep on the sofa and I’ll carry them to bed. Easy as!’ I was quite pleased with my plan. But my inner-self was looking for the dark side as usual because we’d never tried this ploy before.
It won’t work. You’re not that lucky. You’ll have to let Little Man have Baby TV with that annoying quartet playing classical music all evening, and you’ll have to give Fidget the Kindle Fire. They’ll be buzzing and you’ll be the one falling asleep on the sofa. Your stamina isn’t what it used to be.
‘It’s not about stamina, it’s about controlled parenting. I can control the situation with a little help from Dr Seuss. Together we shall overcome: I will be the winniest of winners, and they will be the sleepiest of sleepers!’
Controlled parenting! Rubbish! Fidget has already decided she is getting lots of treats tomorrow. Controlled parenting, my arse. Not a chance! Fidget has you wrapped around her little finger and Little Man will follow her lead, not yours!
I ignored him, probably because I knew he was right.

We arrived home and I ordered the pizza: a deep pan road kill, garlic bread with cheese and barbeque chicken wings – daddy’s special. Whilst we waited for the order to arrive, I bathed the kids and tried to keep the usual bath time fun down to a minimum. The kids had had a long day and were beginning to droop, so I didn’t want them getting too excited and gaining their second wind. I wanted them falling asleep over their slices of pizza, so that I could sneak them to bed.

Daddy's Bedtime Adventure

The pizza arrived and the kids and I settled down to eat. Mickey and Co. were doing their thing for Little Man on TV, and Fidget soon had the screen of the Kindle Fire covered in pizza grease as she navigated her way from one nine-piece puzzle to the next. The annoyingly repetitive tune coming from the Kindle was grating on my nerves, but was, apparently, something she couldn’t do without.
It’s their bedtime. Are you still sticking to your plan? I can sense you drifting. Just think of the fun they could have if you fall asleep.
My drooping eyelids snapped open as I considered what he’d said. I walked to the pile of books in the corner and asked, “Who wants to read a book with daddy?” Silence. “I’ve got The Cat in the Hat!” Still nothing. Both of the kids were engrossed and not looking at all tired. They were awake enough to know to ignore me. I’d need to tread water for a little while longer. With a sigh, I drew the curtains on a glorious June evening. ‘This is going to be a long one.’
We knew that already. You need to bite the bullet and put them to bed. It’s 8pm already, surely you want some time to relax; some time to watch something you like? You’ll definitely need some time to gather your energy before the 5am onslaught tomorrow morning. After all, you aren’t getting any younger!
‘Perhaps they’ll sleep late …’
Never! The chances of them staying in bed late tomorrow because they went to bed late today are non-existent! You need to do something now before it’s too late.
Clearly, he was right. But I was stubbornly sticking to my plan.

I was flagging quicker than an overtired flag that had waved its flaggy heart out all week and was looking forward to some limp time only to be told it was on nightshift and the whole royal family would be passing by and it would be the lead flag for the night from which all other flags would take their cue. The pressure was enormous. I sat on the edge of the sofa and watched the kids … they were still wide awake. But luckily, so was I. For now.
I don’t know who to be more impressed with, them or you.
‘I’ve got this. They’re not going to beat me.’ I slumped back onto the sofa.

The kids were beginning to flake. My heart beat faster as I watched their heavy eyes drooping into slumber.
Now’s your chance. Which one are you taking first? I would suggest Fidget; she always settles quicker than Little Man. Lift her gently and place her head on your shoulder.
‘I know what to do!’
I gently lifted Fidget from the sofa and walked to the door. It was closed.
You should’ve opened the door before you picked her up. Too late now.
‘I’ll just flick the door with my foot and we’ll be good.’ But the flick turned out to be more of a kick and the door hit the wall with a resounding crash. Fidget stirred. I froze. Holding my breath I waited until she settled back on my shoulder before proceeding. We got to her bedroom and the door was closed.
You really are shit at this.
I hunched down and twisting the handle gently pushed the door inward and made my way across the room. Laying her in bed, I casually withdrew and stepped on something large and sharp. Red and green lights flashed in the dark room and my stifled cry of pain was met by a loud “How dare you open a spaceman’s helmet on an unchartered planet. My eyeballs could have been sucked from their sockets!” I’d stepped on Buzz Lightyear.

Daddy's Bedtime adventure‘Damn that hurt.’
Classic parenting mistake! Is she still asleep?
I looked towards the bed trying to focus on Fidget through tear-filled eyes. There was no movement. Luckily, Fidget slept on.
I limped back to the lounge to collect Little Man. The trip to his room went well and I placed him gently into his bed.
Quietly now. The last thing you need is for him to wake and scream the house down.
Fearful of my footing on a carpet I walked daily, I tiptoed to the lounge and slumped onto the sofa. I was on the ragged edge. My nerves frayed beyond recognition. I settled back to watch something, anything, just to relax. Just to unwind.
Just go to bed. It won’t be long before they wake you. The night will pass in the blink of an eye. You’re drifting …

I startled myself awake on the sofa. I’m not sure what I had been dreaming about, but whatever it was brought me out of the kid induced coma I’d drifted into. A text box on the TV told me that the Sky box was about to shut down. It was 2am. I had slumped onto the sofa and fallen asleep in an awkward position. I felt like I had been folded in half with my face clamped to my left shoulder. As I unfolded myself from the sofa the right side of my neck and body screamed in protest.
Feeling your age? Get to bed, you’re only three hours away from your wakeup call.
I staggered to my room and fell onto the bed. Then, in what seemed like the blink of an eye …

“Daddy, it’s morning!” Screamed Fidget, whilst Little Man shook on my arm like an overly enthusiastic puppy tugging on a bone.
“Fidget, it’s 5am!”
Told Ya!
‘Bugger …’


Thanks for reading Part 1 of Daddy’s Bedtime Adventure (Just in case you missed them, you can read Part 2 Here & the final chapter, Part 3 Here)



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