It is a truth universally acknowledged that the only morning that your children will ever have a lie-in is the one morning they really need to get up.
Now, I am not really a morning person. I do not, I confess, usually feel a surge of maternal love when I hear the pitter patter of little feet heading towards my bed in the early hours. Rather, there is a familiar sinking feeling as I wonder what the hell the time is, struggling to open my eyes and peer at the illuminated clock radio in the darkness. On the rare occasions when Littleboy 1 climbs in and then goes back to sleep, he's deliciously warm and cute, but usually, he will lie there kicking and wriggling until daybreak, when he will suddenly demand Shreddies.
Littleboy 2 is better, but dreadful when put to sleep in a travel cot, so last Sunday was particularly painful. We had stayed at Brother-in-law's house, ostensibly to watch Blade Runner on their posh new blu-ray player, (although in actual fact we all fell asleep after the first half hour. That's what parenthood does to you). But we went to bed after midnight (oh, the horror) and were all four sleeping in the same room. So when Littleboy 2 awoke with a roar at 5.45am in the hated travel cot, there was no way we could ignore him and go back to sleep. Soon they were both dancing excitedly around the room, despite the fact that it was still dark outside.
Monday was a fairly typical day. Although The Doctor had to go to work, I look after the Littleboys on Mondays, and could have done with a little extra time under the duvet before facing a day as cook, cleaner and child entertainer. However, Littleboy 1 crept into our bed around 6am and lay there, wriggling and snuffling. Littleboy 2 awoke around 6.30am, screaming for his milk and soon they were both chanting 'breakfast'. By 8.30am, I felt as if I had been up for hours.
Tuesday dawns: a day when we all need to be out of the house by 8am....
7am: I awake to the melodious sound of John Humphreys on Radio 4. I feel confused, disoriented - did someone leave the light on? Ah no, it is actually daylight - I haven't, for once, awoken in the hours of darkness. There is no sound from the Littleboys.
7.10am. The Doctor and I agree that this is 'typical'. Neither of us makes a move to get up.
7.15 am - Finally we hear Littleboy 2. Not screaming for milk as normal, but chatting sweetly in his cot. Still Littleboy 1 fails to appear.
7.20 am - I decide that if I get up and have a shower (next door to Littleboy1's bedroom), he will probably wake up.
7.30 am - I finish shower. Littleboy 1 stumbles out of bed, looking half asleep and furious, like a small animal awoken from hibernation. He goes and lies down in our bed, where he pronounces, sulkily, 'no want to get up'. He takes about 10 minutes to drink his beaker of milk, which he would normally guzzle in about 60 seconds, and generally looks as if he would be happy to stay in bed all morning.
7.50am - After crazed rush to get Littleboys ready for nursery and ourselves for work, we bundle them into the car (with a bowl of Shreddies each, to keep them happy).
Today normal service resumed, with the added excitement of Littleboy 1 having woken up at 1am and decided to play with his Lego rather than go back to bed. Their lie-ins are a rare phenomenon, but when they do come, it is always on the worst possible day. The whole of August, when The Doctor was off work, they were awake, without fail, at the crack of dawn. Come the 1st of September - their first nursery day in about 3 weeks - they both slept soundly until 7.30 am.
It's as if they KNOW......