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Whatever it takes

Living

The Day Diary
Edwin McGreal

I must look like quite the sight in Dooega, doubling back on a 100 metre stretch of road again and again with Éamon in his pram.
Neighbours might wonder am I scoping their house - no; or covering the one kilometre loop from our house in double quick time - definitely not.
The reality is I’m just trying to get him to sleep. The short 100 metre stretch is the only part on the loop where the sun will not break in and have Éamon wide awake again. When that happens you feel like Sisyphus, back at the bottom of the hill with the rock for what seems an eternity.
So you do what you have to do, even if you end up going over and back ten times before he finally gives up and goes to sleep.
Frankie has always been a good sleeper but it is only when we have someone else in to babysit we realise how much of a routine we’ve built up and how she is definitely a tad OCD about how the nighttime dance goes.
It starts with us saying ‘bock and beddies’ to cue the time is nigh. I’m perfectly aware that speaking like that is exactly the sort of stuff I laughed at other parents doing. But Frankie loves her bottle and has learned to associate it with going to bed. She can get her mouth around ‘bock and beddies’ easier than ‘bottle and bed’ so we go with what works.
Taking the bottle away from her will be a battle for another day.
Bottle down, she has to collect her three cuddly toys that she insists on going to bed with - Minnie Mouse, a love heart and Kevin the Carrot (thanks, Aldi). Kevin always seems to do a little disappearing act at night so we’ve to root through the sitting room before finding him. Heaven help us if any of the three go missing permanently.
Toys in tow, she has to kiss and hug her baby brother and whichever parent is not bringing her to bed.
The walk down the hallway is incomplete if she does not get to kiss the two Easter Island Moai standing guard at the foot of the stairs.
Into her bedroom then and the toys have to go into her cot before we can dare change her nappy. Regardless of how warm it is, she insists on wearing her snuggly pajamas and then she is nearly ready, but not quite.
She will turn off the light herself and insist on you singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to her while its music plays on her cot mobile. Only then can you lay her down in her cot and she turns on her side straightaway, ready to go to sleep and is usually gone by the time you get back to the sitting room.
But fail with any of those steps and you could be in trouble. We never realised how much this routine had built up until we started trying to explain this to my sister when she came in to let us go to a wedding. We forgot some of them.
We figured Frankie would still go down because she was wrecked. Not a bit of it, she was crying and giving out. So the multi-step process had to be retraced and only then was she content to go to sleep. You do what you have to do.

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.