I have never got used to being the only grown-up in the house after dark.
Though I have about thirty two locks on both the front door and the back and diddy alarms that shriek in protest whenever I dare to open a window, still the fact remains that when it comes to bedtime I walk around the house, keys jangling like a prison warden in a dressing gown, then switch all but one light off (I would prefer it if any potential burglars can see what they are doing, in case they trip over the coffee table and decide to sue me for damages), and run up the stairs two at a time, dashing into Finn’s room to tuck him in, and on to my own room, heart beating slightly too fast, firmly closing the door behind me and breathing a sigh of something as pathetic as relief as I snuggle down among layers of quilts and eiderdowns.
So there I was last night, wide awake at one o’clock in the morning, with the kind of eyes stretched so far with reading, it had started to hurt to blink. Yes. There I was. Feeling cross with myself and my insomnia and Hamish Macbeth and the owls chattering amongst themselves in the trees across the lane. And then the bed shook. And my heart nearly popped out of my mouth. And my whole body tingled with the sheer fright. And I lay there for a good five minutes, frozen with shock, listening so hard I could hear the blood trickling through my veins and absolutely nothing else, for although the house had indeed shook and the bang was still resounding in my ears, all else was quiet.
Readers I was terrified. For a moment I toyed with the idea that something had gone amiss in my brain and that what had actually happened was that I had suffered a particularly violent episode of that weird feeling of falling off a cliff a person occasionally suffers when falling asleep. Only while I was awake. And then I got it into my head that it had been a little earthquake for hadn’t Liverpool shook with a teeny tiny earthquake on an equally spooky night in 2008? So I got my phone and did what any sane person would do in the circumstances: I searched Twitter for signs of shaken Merseyside Life.
I tweeted hash-tag after shaky hash-tag and the rest of the locality seemed just hunky-dory and by now I was standing half-naked peeking out of the window to see if the neighbours had gathered in hair curlers and bad pyjamas to assess the damage done to rooves and cars and to my astonishment the lane was as deathly quiet as it ever is in the early hours of the morning and clearly that huge bang had been the result of a naughty person with evil intent slamming the door as he entered my little home and shook this dear little 160 year old cottage to its very wobbly foundations.
An evil person who must be now sitting in my armchair biding his time before he made his way upstairs and made off into the night with my son. Oh heck, my son!! For isn’t it true that though I had searched the world wide web for Richter scale answers and lay worrying for my life in the few moments after the so called earthquake, the truth is that my son’s safety had not immediately come to mind because in my middle of the night muddle his silence had told me he was safe. Finley is not a child who would go quietly.
But all of a sudden I was possessed by maternal bravado and I was climbing into my dressing gown and pushing my surprised feet into black boots with gold studs, for a person who is setting out to do battle with heaven knows what verily must be wearing the kind of shoes that could give a man a fright. And then I armed myself with a small bottle of homemade lavender air freshener (I will soothe him into submission!) and ventured on to the landing. Stopping every half inch or so to scare myself my breathing too hard as I made my way across the hall to Finns room.
I pushed his door open and squinted at his bed and for the second time in one night my heart jumped into my throat for my little one wasn’t there. I screeched his name and rushed towards the bed and stood on something squidgy and human. And there he was. Sprawled flat out on the floor in a tumble of the quilts he like to weigh himself down in, having clearly fallen out of bed, and survived the resulting drama by sleeping through the whole matter.
See the thing is this, for most of their childhood, children float through their days with a body filled with air and then one night they go to bed and wake up with bones filled with bricks, so Mummies haven’t a cat in hell’s chance of picking them up off the floor when they fall out of bed and shake ones rickety little cottage so hard the chimney surely wobbled.
So I sat on the floor and tickled his neck, then stroked the feet of his onesie in an effort to wake him up in the same manner breastfeeding Mommies use to rouse their sleepy newborns, but no joy, my very own little ton of bricks was flat out and no amount of telling him bad jokes or trying to heave his little (rather big now) body was going to cajole him back into bed, so I pushed a pillow under his head, tucked his blanket around him and left him camping on his bedroom floor, while I trudged back to bed in my big old boots.
And the moral of this ludicrous tale? When things go bang in the night a persons imagination is liable to run away with her. The end.