Most nights, my wife and I have ringside seats to one of the most entertaining fights you’ll ever see, writes Ben Keenan.
In the blue corner, weighing in at almost a stone in weight, the boy whose smile could melt snow, Thomas ‘the phenomenon’ Keenan. And his opponent: Bedtime. Since he was about two months old, the boy has displayed those tell-tale signs that he was ready for bed at about 6.30pm. He’ll rub his eyes, make hilarious noises and demand to be held as closely as possible. We then start the process of saying goodnight to the day, talking as quietly as mice, suggesting things he might like to dream about and counting each step we take towards his bedroom. We turn on the night light which projects stars and moons on the ceiling while playing a relaxing melody that has been blatantly lifted from a Beethoven symphony. The boy then has his last feed and we watch the angelic sight of our son’s eyes getting heavier and heavier until he admits defeat and falls asleep. But then we put him in his cot and the calm is shattered like a broken rusk. Jen and I call this ‘Round Two’. The boy realises he’s been duped into sleeping and makes it clear that this is simply not on. We pick him up, gently rock him back and forth until his eyes are as heavy as he is and as delicately as one might place a soufflé in front of a king and queen, we put him down again. Round Three is my favourite because I convince myself that sleep has won and our son is now fast asleep, only to take one step outside of his bedroom and be proven wrong. At this moment, Jen will usually top him up with mama’s finest but depending on the lateness of the hour; we’ll change his position and rock him as if he were in a hammock. This final side to side action is my favourite, with his face, soothingly lit by the candle-soft glow of his night light, I hold my finest achievement in my arms and feel pure undiluted happiness spread through my entire body and inflate my heart to twice its size.