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Bonzer Words!: Happiness Is A Good Lie In

...On one occasion I sent her big brother to entice her out of bed. After a great deal of shaking, a bleary eye emerged briefly from the bedding. “Go away Michael. You might wake me up.”...

Heather Stone tells of children who are reluctant to be prised away from their bed sheets.

C’mon love, it’s a quarter past five”.
“C’mon. If you don’t get up I won’t have time for a coffee. ……..”

“Get up NOW! You waste a third of your life sleeping!”

By the time I’ve produced the coffee, made the sandwiches, brought the towels, laid out the clothing, tied his shoelaces, packed his briefcase, been to the toilet and thrown cold water over my head, I’m sufficiently awake to think up a smart retort: “But love, if you don’t get enough sleep, how can you possibly enjoy the other two thirds of your life!”

Oops….too late; he’s already left to dice with death on the freeway; and it’s invariably too late to sneak back to bed.

Yesterday’s mess, kids’ breakfasts, school lunches, TV, chaos and school beckon. Two of my kids are halfway sensible. They love their bed, especially when trying to part it from them!

First to be roused is the early beginner. I brave the reek of last night’s socks and turn on his light. I begin with a gentle greeting which becomes shriller at regular intervals. When this fails I use threats. Removal of blanket followed by application of cold water is generally successful but due to recent increases in age, height, weight and disrespect, it sometimes had unhappy repercussions.

Number two is ritualistic and thus a walkover. This operation is always accomplished smoothly if I previouslty prepare the couch, removing all accumulated cushions, papers and crumbs, then turn the TV to “The Flintstones”. She rises to my call and stumbles, zombie-like, towards the couch while I trail dutifully behind carrying two blankets, a pillow and a panda.
The littlest dormouse, generally known as SHE, has to be prised like a limpet from the mattress then half carried, half dragged, into the lounge-room whereupon she falls instantly back to sleep in an armchair. She is not ritualistic, nor has she a better nature to which one can appeal.

On one occasion I sent her big brother to entice her out of bed. After a great deal of shaking, a bleary eye emerged briefly from the bedding. “Go away Michael. You might wake me up.”

Once when my husband was away, self-motivation failed! In the “Hurry, hurry, we’re going to be late for school” chaos that ensued, I mentioned that the alarm hadn’t gone off. “Yes it did mummy”, SHE chirruped, “it was making me wake up, so I went in your room and turned it off”.

I love my sleep. Until I was married I would always manage to average around 9 hours of sleep a night, even if it meant sleeping in at weekends to catch up. Marriage changed a lot of things. Saturdays became shopping day. Sunday was dedicated to sport. As our lives progressed, these were supplanted by other sleep robbers such as bush-bashing, hunting, fishing, panning and fossicking. We even stood waist deep in icy surf in the dead of winter, casting out our rods at 2am.

Sunrise in the Victorian Alps became a familiar sight. I recall one winter at Jericho when I was urged from my cosy sleeping bag to make the compulsory coffee. The fact that to accomplish this I first had to light the fire and then break the ice to cart the water seemed to bother nobody at all (except myself).

Without doubt the most ageing episodes of those early years were during his pirate radio period. It was the closest I ever came to martyrdom; getting up for work after a night spent sharing a double bed with a sociable pet cockatoo, a blue heeler who snored, and a large Yaesu radio transceiver that talked ‘skip’ to Japan, the Falklands or Alaska at 3 am.

My husband impatiently dismissed the medical literature about individual sleep requirements. He claimed that we sleep our lives away. He claimed that many famous people, such as Napoleon, needed only a few hours sleep a night. No doubt other such examples include Hitler, Herod, Stalin and Genghis Khan!

When I had my third child the doctor asked if I was ready to go home. I fell to my knees begging to be allowed to stay in the hospital; preferably for the rest of my life! He allowed one more day. While the nurses forcibly unhooked my clutching fingers from the metal bed-frame, his parting advice was: “And make sure you get plenty of rest………………….”

© Heather Stone


Heather writes for Bonzer magazine. Please visit www.bonzer.org.au


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