Returning from our Irish trip was made easier by our smugness about the heatwave we missed while we were gone. It’s still warmer than we’d like, of course, but more manageable than it looked on Instagram during our break, where naive, deluded London friends pretended they enjoyed things like sweating, peeling and – God forbid – eating outdoors. This shared horror of the sun is one aspect of London life that has strengthened our marriage. It might even be the thing we most like about each other.
Unfortunately, the boy has had a tougher transition. This surprised us as he’s usually pretty adaptable. He settled into his first nursery in a week and then his second in three days. In between, he adjusted to my less-than-perfect lockdown crèche without so much as a churlish Ofsted rating. Most impressive of all, when we returned to iPlayer and found that Raa Raa The Noisy Lion had added a new character, Pia the Parrot, he embraced her into the fold without a second thought. Her addition enraged only us, his Raa Raa-addicted parents, who consider Pia a sad, squawking obscenity who has ruined the central chemistry of the show’s oddly scaled jungle critters.
No, his problem has been sleep. Whatever routine we’d gotten him into in Dublin seems to have broken his rhythm and he now refuses to go down for naps or night time.
His sleep habits had been stable for a while, once again proving one of parenting’s cruellest quirks; anytime you’ve got a handle on one problem, another you’d already solved comes back into your life, like an unwelcome, charisma-bereft jungle bird that’s somehow the same height as the lions and elephants it hangs around with.
You’d have to be pretty stupid, and extremely arrogant, to think the trials of parenting stop at two years old. But I am precisely that thick and twice as vain. I presume that each of my son’s developmental advances is not merely permanent, but probably owed to some knack for parenting that’s somehow escaped detection in 100+ columns I’ve written, almost exclusively, about the fact I’ve no idea what I’m doing. My ignorance re-asserted, I once again scramble for new solutions to old problems.
We’ve tried tough love and soft love. We read books and sing songs until he’s limp in our arms, but still he starts roaring whenever we try to exit. We’ve switched up his mealtimes and swore off TV before bed, but no dice. Our one successful approach has been to lie on the small couch beside his cot, quietly watching Raa Raa on a tablet ourselves, so he can hear its faint strains as he drifts to sleep.
So, this is where you’ll find me, on a tiny sofa watching loud claymation animals. Praying for sleep, I will make no sound, wishing death upon the stupid, sad parrot I choose to blame for everything.
Follow Séamas on Twitter @shockproofbeats