Since they were little, all of my children have loved sleeping in the big bed — that is, the parental bed. Me, not so much. It’s a cute idea in theory — snuggly warm little bodies all cuddled up under the duvet, looking like sleeping angels and smelling like baby shampoo, making delicate sighs in their sleep as they gently turn over, hugging one special stuffed toy in their arms. In reality, it’s more like hogged covers, suspiciously well-aimed kicks, urgent demands for water at 3am, and waking up to the sound of action figures having a battle on the duvet over my left ankle at 6am.
Not to mention the toys. The toys! Lego minifigures, miniature plastic animals, stuffed toys I didn’t know we owned, wooden blocks, books, racing cars, “treasures” picked up outside (pinecones, leaves, rocks, shells)… I still don’t understand why children need to go to bed with half their toyboxes strewn under the covers.
The other night Master Six was sleeping in the big bed wearing his too-big dinosaur-shaped slippers, which are each bigger than his whole head and have a T-rex body poking up from the toes. In the morning both slippers were next to his head. He was cuddling them, an arm thrown protectively over the slippers like they were his own children. Clutched in his fist was the disembodied leg of a Star Wars figure. The very first thing he said to me upon waking up was, “Mum, can you put this guy’s leg back on?” and then he pulled out the rest of the action figure from inside one of the dino slippers next to his head.
As I was blearily performing emergency action figure surgery in the bleak light of dawn, he casually pulled a water bottle out of the other dino slipper and took a sip. I would not have been surprised if he also had a full English breakfast stored in there.
My husband doesn’t like the kids sleeping in the big bed, so when they crawl in with us, he uses it as an excuse to escape to the spare room, which he actually really likes because it’s quiet and dark and there are no kids in there asking him to fix action figure amputees at 6am. So it’s me the kids snuggle up to in the middle of the night, stealing all of my covers and breathing noisily into my ear, muttering about Spongebob Squarepants in their sleep.
Still. There will come a time — not very far from now — when my kids are too big to sleep in the big bed with me. When they don’t want to snuggle or, indeed, be anywhere near their mother, because I will morph from their favourite person to the most annoying human on the planet. This time won’t last forever, so I should cherish it. Or at least try not to think murderous thoughts when I get kicked in the kidney for the third time in the middle of the night.