Friday, 14 February 2014

Lions in the Garden



The cry split the air.  The house shook with the ferocity of the yelling.  The little girl wanted something, she wanted it now, and what she wanted was me.  It’s always nice to feel wanted, although less so when the little girl with the big voice that wants you really should be asleep as she’s been in bed for a good twenty minutes or so. 


I’m pretty sure she means me, and anyway my wife is currently feeding S so it is up to me to beard the beast in her lair.  I walk up stairs and gingerly open the door, half expecting her to pounce on me.  Happily for me she is still in bed, although she’s sat up and staring at the door. 

I enter the room determined to boss the conversation, to be in charge, to firmly state that it is time for N too go to sleep, that she needs to lie down and that it is time to stop this.  The plan in my head is clear and fool proof.  Unfortunately I have over-estimated my ability to get the first words in.  As I open my mouth N’s voice, softer now that someone has come at last, floats out at me.

“Daddy, you didn’t give me a kiss and a cuddle.”

Now I know that this is a bald-faced lie.  I had absolutely given her a kiss and a cuddle when she went to bed, it is all part of the bedtime ritual and I wouldn’t have forgotten it. Sadly that is not quite what comes out of my mouth.  What I actually say is,

“OK, you can have a kiss and a cuddle, then you need to go to sleep.”

It didn’t start well I admit that, but I think I was at least a little justified.  You shouldn’t, ever, pass up the opportunity to have a cuddle with your little girl, not least just before she’s about to go to sleep.  Anyway, a kiss and a cuddle wasn’t going to break my resolve to be firm and make sure N went to sleep.  The key was not letting her draw me into a conversation.

“Daddy, will I see any lions out of my window?”

Tell me, what would you have done?  I couldn’t just ignore the question, what if she didn’t go to sleep at all because I hadn’t managed to assure her that there were no lions in Coventry.  I set to work as quickly as I could.  “Of course you won’t see any lions.”

“Why not?”

Shot back the follow-up question. 

“Because there aren’t any lions out there.”

“There are in the jungle”

“Yes, well, actually no, lions live in a place called the Savannah” – I could tell that this was slipping away from me a little bit but I was in too deep now.

“What’s the Savannah?”

Would these questions never stop?

“It’s a place where there is grass for miles and miles, that’s why there aren’t any lions here.” I said, desperately trying to drag the conversation back to a point where I could bring it to a halt.


“Because there’s not enough grass.” I stammered.

The end reached I drew a deep breath and went to get up.

“Can Barry Bean’s bunny ask a question?” 

The last vestige of hope I had that I would be getting out of there with any belief in my parenting ability died quietly in the corner as I sat back down on the bed to field a question from Barry Bean’s bunny, which, as you might imagine, is a soft toy rabbit which we bought for N while she was still waiting to greet the world, at which point in her life we called her Barry Bean, which is probably best left unexplored right now.

“Can Barry Bean’s bunny ask a question?”

“Yes, of course” I replied.

“Will he be sick in my bed?”

The question is not quite as out of the blue as it might seem as N has been feeling ill for about a week now, an illness which started with her being sick, a lot, in her bed.  I felt on safe ground here as I answered that BBB would definitely not be being sick in her bed that night and that she really needed, now, to lie down, close her eyes and go to sleep.

I left the room feeling that I had really established my dominance over the situation, calmed the little girl down and got out with most of my dignity intact.  I allowed myself a little smile as I walked downstairs to carry on with tea preparations, all night-time adventures firmly quelled.



  1. And the questions just get harder and harder!

  2. And your grip looser and looser!

    1. I'm not sure how much looser it can get!

  3. Just wait, the questions get stranger too, our eldest boy (aged 4) asked last week, Daddy, do hobbits know about socks? !

    1. Very astute he must be, all that running around with just hair to keep their feet warm! Can't be good for them. Perhaps he should go into the Hobbit sock business, he'll have it sewn up in no time.