The one about hangovers

1 Apr

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5.45am Saturday.  L1 comes into my room; she’s had a nightmare.  This is all par for the parenting course, but this was slightly different – I felt as if a large group of students had hosted a party inside my skull the night before and had skedaddled leaving the debris behind.  Of course it’s not L1’s fault that I’ve over-indulged in Tesco Cava the night before, so she’s welcomed into our bed as is usual under these circumstances.  But with two critical differences.  Firstly, she’s sternly warned that it’s sleeping time only – ‘I need to sleep, more than usual right now’.  Secondly, she volunteers ‘I can tell you what my nightmare was about’ – to which I respond, lightning-fast – ‘no, that’s for the morning’.  There is no way that my bedraggled brain can cope with listening to a nightmare stream of consciousness at that hour under those circumstances.

All who have parented with a hangover could gather in small, traumatised therapy groups, clutching mugs of tea and shuddering with the horror of the memory of that morning when you are woken at 5.30am with your hair steam-ironed against your cheek stringy with saliva and a small bouncy child ready to play when you got to bed two hours before and sense that all you may be ready for is to curl around the toilet bowl and await the inevitable.

I have to confess, I have done it a handful (big hands, you see) of times and each time I have sworn ‘never again, I’ve learnt my lesson’.  Two memorable occasions: being found under L1’s cot post adland awards dinner wailing about my defiled state (the fizz! the wine! the vodka! the after dinner liquers! etc!) compared to her sleeping angelic innocent purity (possibly an over-reaction).  And the night when my belated swaying in through the door was taken by L2 as a cue to start copiously vomiting.  In my ‘confused’ state, I felt that the best place to corral this effluvia was within my cupped hands; that cup, believe me, was overflowing.  And there are many, many more.  But eight years on and I’ll still doing it, only now I have two children to facilitate early morning, so my sneaking suspicion is that I probably won’t give it up now.  It’s what black coffee and Alka Seltzer are made for.

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