After an hour of mind-numbing, pinkie-numbing waiting, your little baby or toddler or teenager is finally in the land of nod. Just one thing left to do before you open the wine and watch TV that needs a PIN number …
Our guide to lion-taming continues with a step-by-step guide on how to escape without being heard.
Step 1 – Do Not Wake the Lion
Do not even breathe.
Listen with every single hair on your skin – the hairs that are now standing on end, straining to catch a sign that the lion is awake.
I focus on the vertical strip of light from the door and listen intently.
I have sat in his room for twenty-seven minutes, gently hushing him until he pretended to sleep for long enough to actually fall asleep. But Nibbles is a canny one and given how tired I am, he might not fall asleep before I do.
Just the other day I crept into his room to find him grasping onto Andy’s finger through the bars of his crib, whilst Andy snored softly on the floor beside him.
Step 2 – Be Certain The Lion Sleeps Tonight
I think he is asleep. It’s hard to tell because Nibbles sleeps so soundlessly (unlike his snoring beauty of a sister). As he falls asleep he wriggles a little and sometimes his legs twitch involuntarily until he goes still and so soundless, sometimes I worry he is no longer breathing.
His sister is definitely asleep – I can hear her gentle whistling through the walls.
Nibbles has ceased to make any movements or obvious noise, which does not categorically indicate that he is asleep, for I have fallen for that assumption many times, only to discover as I ease the door shut that he is far from asleep and I have to start the whole process over again.
Step 3 – Stay Very Very Still
I sit with my back against his cold radiator, wondering why on earth we don’t have a nice comfy armchair in his room for this nocturnal waiting game, and also knowing that if I was more comfortable that I would fall hopelessly and deeply asleep. Potentially waking him with my nonsense mumbling.
I wait a few more minutes (probably ten or more), just in case, until I am nigh on certain that he must either be getting much better at pretending to be asleep, or is actually in the land of nod.
I want to sigh with relief. I want to cheer at winning this game, but I dare not make a noise, because for the life of me I do not want to start again.
Step 4- Ready?
I ease my aching limbs and back from my sitting position onto my hands and knees. Not that fast though. It takes several minutes to sit upright, then tip a little, then manoevure one buttock off the floor, then twist slightly to adjust my weight distribution, then lift the other (and so on). No I won’t describe it in real time, as you will leave and read another blog instead.
Uh oh. A creak.
Not just my joints (my knees are the worst) but the floorboards in this old house. Why do we live in a wonderful Victorian house that is a minefield of creakiness?
I wait silently in each new position, listening for a sound or murmur or rustle of his sheets that might indicate that he has woken or was never really asleep.
Nothing. Not a sound.
So far, so good.
Step 5 – Set? Slow…
I am now in a hands-and-knees snail-speed escape position for a turbo exit.
I ease my right knee forward in delicate synchronisation with my right hand. A ballet in super slow-mo. I hover in this position, then gently, oh so gently slide them onto the floor, tensing in case of another groan from the floorboards.
After every movement I wait a little, straining to catch a sign that I have blown my stealthy parent-ninja exit.
There’s only a few metres to the door, yet those eight or nine movements take what seems like a lifetime to complete. I get to the door – knowing that I have completed stage one and have three more ahead of me.
Step 6 – Open the Cage
Today, I nudge the door open with my nose. Wondering if the increasing light that now illuminates his room will jolt him out of a light slumber.
I wait. Listen. Nothing so far – half way there.
I ease myself through, still on my hands and knees, going at a fair lick in comparison (although no Olympian’s record is in danger) and once I am wholly out of his room in the hallway, I allow myself to stand up. I stretch and turn back to the door.
One more thing to do.
Step 7 – Close the Cage
My hand moves to the door handle and I slowly pull the door to, watching as the light in his room dims to near darkness.
The handle is firmly down (I am not making that mistake again, as I once ruined the entire ballet with a hasty door slam) and close it with barely a whisper. The finale is seconds away, I slowly and carefully release the door handle until the door is firmly shut.
Step 8 – Make Your Escape
I do not, despite the impatient urge within me, now run or even walk at normal pace away. For he can still wake up and then I have to return to lion watching.
I creep. I gently slide across our blessed carpet, listening every few steps for the slightest sign that my presence is detected.
It is only as my hand alights on the top of the stair bannister that you would hear me breathe again. Cautiously I come downstairs, and I allow myself a sly smile of self-congratulations.
For tonight I got one over on the lion.
Long may the lion sleep tonight.