I’m pretty emotional at 3am without waking to find myself lying in a muddle of wet bedclothes. Being weed all over by my daughter in her sleep isn’t all that conducive to rational thought but I did find it extra tricky to get a handle on myself this morning. The kid didn’t want me to put her in new clothes, the bed needed changing and then, once she’d stopped screaming liking a Banshee, she was wide awake and wanting a story. We’d read together and I’d managed to prop her in front of the telly-box and drip feed her several instalments of Pixar and Aardman before sun-up and you’d likely had your Coco-pops.
Speaking of Coco-Pops, the Food-bank of Mum contained one of those multi-packs of mini-cereals that still enthral me even now. When I was a kid she never bought them as she said we couldn’t afford them. 7 year-old me (and 41 year-old me) still sees decadence in the light bouncing off their cellophane. And was I glad I was not the only one, this morning. When Monkey-face was demanding I make her porridge at a time I used to still be falling out of a bar, I was very pleased I could cajole her into unwrapping their Kelloggy-shrink-wrapped goodness, pick her own and pour her own milk. My plot worked and she shut up about me trying to tackle a hob and boiling milk before dawn and was sucked right into Kellogg marketing’s axis of evil.
What I couldn’t get out of, though, was reading a book to her. It’s shameful I tried to mind-control her to sleep without reading her a book. What would it have taken, 5 minutes? Yet I confess, I’d have willingly sold her for getting back into bed for those five minutes. But, there was nothing for it. She would not be moved and started to scream, stopping only when I got down to reading to her. The irony of being an utterly clueless, absent crap mother, yet somehow I’ve managed to get her to depend on reading. At that time in the morning, I was convinced I was cursed. We’ve had whooping cough, flu, a bladder infection and now ringworm (no, nothing to do with worms, I freaked out too) in less than two months. The bladder infection is back and the GP won’t treat it without diagnosis, but the lab have lost the results. So, book it was. And the book she wanted, oh how I laughed through my tears, was Stuck.
I suppose picture-book authors reading this of which, chortle, there will be SCORES, will nod sagely at my naivety and confess that, yes, the messages within their children’s book is as much for the parent as it is for the child. So, sitting there at 4am wondering whether the deeply timely message I glean from Oliver Jeffer’s Stuck is in fact proof that I am finally gaga or whether I can hear a voice speaking to me from within a book about a kid who literally cannot see the way forward. Who cannot see the kite and the way to get to it for the tree. So the little boy in the story has a surprising number of things at his disposal in order to help him get his prize out of the tree – he has a ladder, a fire crew, even a saw. But frustration and lack of forethought get the better of him and all he can do is hurl everything at the tree in the hope one of the projectiles will meet his target and the kite will fall from the tree. Eventually, after a lot of effort and wasted time and resources, the kite finally falls. Hmmm. Oliver, have we met?