The Thing Which Goes Grump In The Night


Sometimes I my kids do something or say something and I can really see myself in them. The way Master22’s laugh can be heard a block away. Miss7’s fear of everything. Miss10 walking into walls.

It’s funny how it’s rarely a desirable quality of mine I’ll notice either. I’d love to give you an example at this point about something of me I’d like to see come out in my kids, but nothing’s coming to mind. Tracey couldn’t think of anything either.

But I guess the one thing I do do well is letting my wife sleep in on weekends.

“Mummy!” the kids yelled from the breakfast table when my wife emerged from the bedroom.

“You’re up!” I called over my shoulder from the coffee machine.

I tried to keep the smugness I was feeling at having risen early, allowing her a half hour sleep in while I fed the kids, out of my voice. I wasn’t sure I’d managed to pull this off but figured the coffee I was making her and the fantastically good mood she’d be in from the extra sleep would atone for that.

I was wrong on both counts.

When I turned around Tracey was looking both exhausted and cranky.

“A bad night?” I asked her.

She nodded, snatching the coffee out of my hands and taking a sip.

“I was woken up every half hour from 2am,” she grumbled.

I hadn’t heard the kids come in but that doesn’t mean anything: they don’t know where my side of the bed is.

“It started when I was woken up by this horrible sound,” she said. “It was like something small and scared was being crushed and eaten by a snake.”

And then she gave an impression of what it sounded like. The kids were fascinated.

“Was it coming from the roof?” Miss10 wanted to know, obviously thinking it could have been a possum.

Still sipping her coffee, Tracey shook her head.

“Was it outside, Mumma?” asked Miss4.

I wondered if my wife had checked on the dog. But she said nope, it wasn’t outside.

“In the walls then?” I suggested. We had something scratching about in the wall behind our heads for a few nights a while ago and it was very frustrating.

“It was you!” my wife snapped at me. She did the sound again, only this time right in front of my face. “You were doing a half snore, half wheeze, half death rattle thing. It scared the shit out of me and woke me up so I was wide awake.”

I was getting a real sense that she’d have settled for just the death rattle if it meant she could have got some sleep.

“That’s three halves,” I said. “You’re not making sense.”

“And then,” she continued, ignoring my jibe, “every half hour you’d sit up in bed and look about, or kick your leg out, or suddenly suck in your breath, like you’d been frightened by something.”

“Were you frowning at me like this,” I said, indicating her face. “Cause that’d do it.”

Instead of answering she did the snore-wheeze-death rattle impersonation again. Loudly.

“Stop it,” I said. “You’re scaring the children.”

She wasn’t. They were laughing and pointing at me in what I can only describe as a jocular manner.

“Only,” Tracey grinned, going for the big punch line, “because they’re worried it might be hereditary!”

Miss2, Miss4 and Miss7 are a bit young to understand, but I think I saw a flicker of fear in the faces of Master9 and Miss10.


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“Raising a family on little more than laughs.”

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