Monday 15 October 2007

The beatings will continue until morale improves...

Sunday morning: 6.45 a.m. Neve has slept in relatively late, but has now decided that it's time for that to end: the sun has been up for at least 4 minutes, so it's clear to her that we should be too. To my joy, Nini sighs resignedly, picks her up and makes to take her downstairs, leaving me for a lie-in. I experience an overwhelmingly surge of deep affection for my wife, but keep perfectly still and say nothing, so that she assumes I am still sleeping and there is no danger of her changing her mind. No sooner has she pulled the door shut than I have rolled over, pulled the duvet over my head and am properly asleep again within minutes.
Not, however, for long. According to the bedside clock, it is 7.22 when the the door crashes open again, waking me with a start. My sleep-crusted eyes fly open. Standing framed in the doorway against the grey early morning light is a diminutive figure wearing nothing but a nappy, and with a dummy it its mouth. It is holding a shoe.
There is a period of silence. Father gazes at daughter. Daughter gazes back, chewing slowly and menacingly on her dummy.
Nobody speaks. The tension gently builds.
"Yes?" I ask, finally.
With a shriek of joy, Neve immediately hurls herself across the carpet and begins to methodically beat me over the head and neck with the shoe. I am not properly awake yet, and my brain is not fully functioning, so part of me believes that this could just be some horrible dream. That being the case, I decide that the best policy is not to overreact: I foolish choose to pretend to be asleep again, in the hope that she will go away. After all, it worked with her mother...
After a few minutes, I come to realise that:
(a) No, it's definitely not a dream.
(b) Although not overreacting is probably a good idea, doing nothing at all is really not working out so well for me: I am being given a protracted shoeing by a one-year old.
(c) It is not her shoe, it is too big. It faintly crosses my mind that she has looked around specifically for something to hit me with, and has rejected her own footwear as being too slight for the job.
(d) She shows no signs of tiring. It's entirely possible she could continue to thrash at my face with her sisters black patent school shoe until her bedtime rolls around again, some 12 hours from now.
(e) It's actually starting to hurt.
I decide that, on reflection, it's just possible I may have lost control of the situation: my policy of passive non-retaliation is not having the desired affect. I need to regain the upper hand, and show the tiny terrorist who's boss - its time to roll out the big guns. She's certainly asked for it:
"Nini", I call weakly, "Neve is beating me with a shoe..."
(If it sounds pathetic to read, know that it was far, far worse to say. Complete and utter loss of dignity already, without even having gotten up yet...)