‘Don’t wake us up tomorrow morning,’ we told the kids Saturday evening. ‘Mama and papa want to sleep in.’ The good thing about the kids getting older, is that they don’t automatically come to our room the second they wake up, but manage to entertain themselves for a limited period of time. We need to leave some instructions about noise levels - no piano playing before seven on weekdays, for instance, and no fighting or hurting each other too noisily (in quiet, it’s fine) but generally they do fairly well. Although we can’t get the girls out of bed on any weekday, on weekends, they seem to be always up too soon. But of course, as all parents know, anything after eight on a Sunday counts as sleeping in.
The first time I woke up it was around five, still dark. Mitzi the cat was meowing loudly in front of our bedroom door. When I went out to try and silence her, she nudged me to her bowl through the darkish room. I felt my way around the shelves, trying not to turn on any light that would wake up the other, still sleeping, half of my brain, and filled her bowl, whilst making mental notes to give her extra food next time. I scratched her head, and stumbled back to bed. Around seven forty five I heard gentle noises coming from the living room, but managed to block them, and turned around – they would be fine for at least another hour.
Then, the chicken popped up into my head. If I’d leave them in the night house too long, they’d traipse all through the poo, making a nasty mess, and worse, the older ones would bully the two young pullets in that closeted space after they were awake. I sneaked out the back of the house, so the kids could not see me, and released and fed the hens. I took the cage with the chicks out of the playroom, and watered and fed those too. On the way, I popped some chye sim into the tadpole bowl, and a leaf of lettuce in sla-witje the caterpillar’s bottle. With all creatures nourished, I allowed myself a sip of water, and snuck back into bed. The kids had had birthday parties yesterday, so I hoped their secret party bag stash sugar should give us at least another hour.
After about half that time, the first one popped his head around our door. I moved as little as I could, closed my eyes pointedly, and the door closed again. The next one barged in five minutes later, less subtly, and declared she was dying from hunger. I opened one eye, muttered something about bananas, and tried to sleep on, well aware that the end had begun. Every few minutes now another child would enter, asking about mandarins, chocolate paste on sandwiches, and to complain they could not cut the bread themselves. Cursing the artisanal, crusty bread, I got up, sliced the bread, generously dosed it with chocolate spread, put it on the table, and tiptoed back to bed.
And of course, after that, it was a only matter of little time before all three started piling on top of us. Feeling the little arms, legs and bodies around him, Roel stretched out and looked up. ‘That was a good lie-in,’ he stated. It was nine o’clock. Sunday had begun.