“Go get your phone,” I told Miss13. “It seems to me someone needs to be taught a lesson.”
It’s long been a fathering mantra of mine the key to good parenting is knowing what your kid likes most in the world so you can take it off them when they’re being particularly annoying.
I can’t even remember what she did to deserve this punishment because it was, in terms of albeit criminally short sleep cycles, a week ago. However, using a far more standard definition of time, it happened last night.
My first inkling the morning wasn’t going to see me kicking off the sheet and skipping into the kitchen for a cup of Joe happened at somewhere between ‘Wazthart!’ and ‘Thefarkisit?’
A bell had begun ringing incessantly in the kitchen.
I could have left it for Tracey to sort out but I was worried it was my phone going off and she might gently pitch it back at me when she returned to bed. You ever dropped your phone onto your face while watching Netflix in bed? It hurts.
When I found Miss13’s phone on the bench I started jabbing at the screen until it stopped screaming. Thirty seconds later the doona was between my legs again and I mumbled something about it being Tracey’s idea to give that particular daughter an old phone as I slipped mercifully back t-
Almost immediately – or so it seemed – the damn thing was going off again!
“Don’t hit sleep,” Tracey grumbled helpfully. “You need to hit stop.”
Confessing to myself my jabbing randomly could well have meant I tapped the wrong button, I took an extra second to aim this time, slammed the phone down and returned to be-
This time I stubbed my foot on the wooden blanket box at the end of our bed as I attempted to cut the corner to make it stop quicker, all to a chorus of, “Bring the damn thing to me!”, which was, I assumed, Tracey’s way of saying she wasn’t getting out of bed.
Frowning in a way I knew said this was somehow all my fault I handed Tracey the phone and she jabbed and tossed it on her bedside table, and pulled the sheet over her shoulders. I stood for several seconds wondering what to do next before it occurred to me I could go back to bed.
Not for long though.
Again and again, Tracey and I were torn from our happy places and into the land of wakefulness. We cussed, we had what can only be described as ‘little tantrums’, and we both blamed each other for doing ‘it’ wrong.
Eventually, through the fog of abuse and sleep deprivation, a brilliant idea occurred to me.
When the phone went off I didn’t try to turn off the alarm. I simply pulled it out from under the pile of clean folding next to my bed which I’d dumped out of the laundry basket to try muffle the sound and marched into Miss13’s room with the damn thing blaring.
“Why,” I demanded as she complained about being woken up in this fashion, “does your phone have alarms set for all of the stupid o’clocks?!”
I was prepared and by this stage quite looking forward to hurling colourful abuse at my daughter as I explained waking up at these times to chat with friends is will destroy her chances of a good night’s sleep and with it the ability to function well as a human being. Rather brilliantly, I’d brought myself along as an example for her.
As I say, that was what I was prepared for. What I wasn’t prepared for was her actual answer.
“The alarm was set for 3am, 2:30, 3:45, 4:30, 5am, 5:15 and 6am,” she said sleepily. “But I don’t wake up then. I’m not stupid. I never have them going off.”
“But…why…how….” It was difficult to know where to go from there. I was, after all, very effing tired. I took a breath and tried again. “Then why did your phone go off all friggin’ night?!”
“Because I told it too,” Miss13 said, grinning. “You took my phone off me and when I went to get it I thought, Dad’s right, someone needs to be taught a lesson.”
Raising a family on little more than laughs