Well actually it's more of a rough idea than a story.
When I first split up with Jessica-Marie's mother, in March 2006, Jessica-Marie was only five years and four months old, and I did a deal, whereby the little one would stay with me three weekends out of every four.
I found a nice appartment, but, as it's only a one bedroom place, the bedroom had to be split in two. Half for myself and half, obviously, for Jessica-Marie. This arrangement, while not particularly ethical, suits us, although she is want to sleep with her bedside light on, which can be slightly annoying. I have, however, got used to it after three years.
What took a little longer to get used to was the hour of the night or day, she would wake me up to ask, "Daddy. What time is it?" This led to some rather interesting and amusing conversations, not all of which took place at a decent hour. In fact many took place in what most people would consider to be the middle of the night.
Not all the conversations recorded here, however, are about being woken up for a check on chronological moments, but that seemed a good place to start. Some just go to show, how a kid, from the age of five and a half years, can run rings round a guy fifty one and a half years older than herself.
Not withstanding, the fact that, in mathematics she's a year ahead of her classmates, and in reading and writing, six months ahead, she is an extremely bright kid with a sense of humour to die for. That's what this book is about. The little Muppets sense of humour. Well, that and bemoaning all the sleep I've lost.
Moments in Time
Early one Saturday morning.
What time is it?
5,32, go back to sleep
Gordon Bennet, what?
I can't find sheety
Sheety was a face cloth she used to sleep with, having given up using a dummy since throwing it across the living room at the age of thirteen months. I found sheety under the duvet at the bottom of her bed and went back to my own bed. A few minutes later it felt like the ceiling had fallen on me as she crept across the room and jumped on me like a ton of bricks.
Jessica-Marie , you are a pain in the butt and I want to go back to sleep
But Daddy it's time to stand up
No it's not
Yes it is
No it's not
Yes it is , yes it is
No it's not , no it's not , no it's nooooot. Go and watch cartoons
Cartoons start later on the weekend
So why are we talking at 5,45am?
It must be Saturday then
That's a given , now go wait for the cartoons
Daddy , will Mitch be on line?
If he's got any sense he'll be having the sleep I should be having
Daddy ( a serious voice now)
I'm still hungry
I'm still awake
Yes, but I'm very hungry
You're a kid. What's the difference between hungry and very hungry?
About five minutes
Hey, I do the jokes.
Her answer to that was just muffled giggles, so being in a no win situation I surrendered.
OK. I'll get your breakfast
This is from one of the rare occasions when I woke her up. I really must find a two bedroom appartment.
Say excuse me
You did a prot, and woke me up ( prot is the Flemish word for fart )
Oh, sorry. Excuse me.
After that I managed to go back to sleep, but not for long. Oh no, not long at all.
If you let me sleep I'll try.
What time is it?
Daddy, will Mitch be on my computer?
No , it's too small
Daddy, it's too warm in my bed
Well, go sit in the fridge
Can I watch cartoons?
Yes, of course sweety but not from the fridge.
Ah , peace again
The next morning
What time is it
Jesus H , it's only 5 to 5
Go back to sleep
But I'm awake
Well , lie down and pretend , so I can go back to sleep
Daddy finally got up at 7,03 after she'd been told the time at 5,25 , 5,45 , 6,10 , 6,28 and 6,50.
Sometimes kid's have no idea of time what so ever. When they're awake, everyone is awake, or at least that's how they think it should be.
The middle of the night
What time is it
Gordon bloody Bennet, it's only quarter to two in the morning
Sorry , Daddy.
That's OK . Everyone has a death wish occasionally
Good night , Sweety
What now, my little human alarm clock?
Is that a record?
Unfortunately yes. If you get any earlier you'll wake me up before I've gone to bed
Jessica-Marie is getting better at sleeping later on a weekend. Not a lot but then anything after 05.30 am is a bonus for me
06,56 on a Sunday morning
I try to ignore this first call of the wombat, and being a nature lover, I decline to throw the nearest heavy object at the source of the noise.
06,56 and 10 seconds
Yes my little morning star
What time is it?
Nearly seven am
Daddy. Romy's mummy and daddy won't let her believe in God
At this time of day I'm not surprised
No silly, all the time
Well then, they're wrong to do do that. I don't believe in God but I don't say you can't.
Yes my little keeper of the daybreak
Is Mitchell on line?
No , but if I give you his phone number you can annoy him instead of me.
Better not, he needs his beauty sleep
Which goes to show how quickly the female of the species can change the subject from annoying one person to wanting to annoy another.
Another Saturday morning
Yes, my little muppet of the morning?
What time is it?
I don't know, phone your mother.
The clock says six nineteen.
Why are you asking me then, if you know? (I sense here the beginnings of female logic.)
OK so phone your mother and test her.
She won't like that.
And I do?
But you're funny in the morning.
Yes I know sweety, I'm a real riot.
Is Mitch on line?
He was when I went to bed at ten after four.
Next time I say goodnight to Mitchell at one thirty a.m. I will not keep talking till after four.
Other Pearls of Childhood Wisdom
It's amazing what kid's think, about conservation and that kind of stuff. Now, I detest flies. Their constant buzzing really gets on my nerves. That, and the fact that, no matter how many times you swat them, they just keep coming back to drive you crazy. A bit like kids really.
Have you got a tin with a lid?
I want to catch flies and let them out of the window
Just spray them
No, I don't want to kill them I want to let them out so they can fly away.
Sweety, as you grow up I will support you 100% in everything you do. I'll play the silly games you invent, even though you make up the rules so I can never win. I'll teach you to cook, even though you leave the kitchen looking like a bomb site. I'll even clean up the mess you leave when you've finished painting pictures, but I adamantly refuse to join your save the flies campaign.
I'm quite sure that if I'd gone along with her plan of giving flies time off for good behaviour, she would still have asked me "what time is it", so she could have recorded the time and date of the flies release. Ah well, at least she didn't think of satelite tagging them.
We participate on one of the internet forums with Mitchell, a friend from Chattanooga, Tennesee, which as everybody knows is in the U.S.A. and is six hours behind our time in Belgium. He is the Mitch that Jessica-Marie always asks about at strange times of the day or night.
The following are some of the questions put to her on the forum and the answers she gave.
"What do you love most about your Daddy?"
"I love my Daddy because he's funny in the morning when I wake him up."
"Doesn't he get annoyed when you wake him up early?"
"I don't think so. He never shouts at me, and he does get my breakfast."
When I first posted on the forum about her starting horse riding lessons, a couple of months before her sixth birthday, she was asked,
"What kind of horse do you ride?"
"The usual kind." she replied, "Head, tail, leg on each corner."
I guess that she's a half Belgian kid with a full English sense of humour.
What worries me now though is when she starts to bring boyfriends home and I get introduced to some long haired spotty teenager, and my dicky ticker may not be enough of a reason to hold me back from attempting to break a leg or two. Well that and old age. Still it might give the defibrillator a work out.