I wake to the sound of the smoke alarm running out of batteries at 2.30am.
It didn’t run out of batteries when we were awake, during the day. It waited until we were all in a rare deep sleep.
The smoke alarm is outside Midnight’s room, and fiddling about with the cover is like trying to disarm a bomb. This is something I don’t feel trained for on four hours sleep.
I pad back to our room and hiss at the lump in the bed. ‘Help me! help me!’
‘What’s happening?!’ My husband wakes suddenly and crosses his arms in front of his face in a self-defence pose.
‘Alright Daniel San, calm down, we’re not under attack.’
My husband drops his arms.
‘Listen,’ I whisper. We both stay perfectly still. It seems a long time before the BEEEEEP comes.
‘It’s the smoke alarm.’ I explain.
‘Just take the battery out.’ My husband says gruffly.
‘I can’t get the cover off. It’s making my ears bleed.’
‘I’ll do it then.’ My husband rolls out of bed. I fetch a stool.
‘I can’t do it.’ He grumbles, shoving his thumbs into the tiny plastic crack trying to prise it off before it beeps again. He is wobbling dangerously over the stairs.
‘I’m going to get a screw driver.’ I say and spend a frantic two minutes rummaging around in the cupboard of doom under the stairs.
The screwdriver works and we open the cover and take the old battery out. There’s a robotic sound as if it is dying. A red light flickers, and goes off.
‘It’s like the end of Terminator.’ I say
My husband puts his thumb up and climbs off the stool.
‘Well done,’ I say as we crawl back to bed.
I lie awake wondering about the chances of a fire starting in the next three hours now we haven’t got any batteries in the fire alarm.
I close my eyes but moments later Midnight is screaming.
I rush to his room, but as I stroke his head, I hear Mayhem shouting. ‘Somebody? Anybody?’
My husband races to Mayhem’s side, so he doesn’t wake up Milk.
‘You know in Star Wars? Do the death droids have burnt faces?’ I hear Mayhem say.
‘Umm. No. Yes. I don’t know, we’re not talking about this.’ Whispers my husband loudly. ‘It’s the middle of the night, everyone is asleep.’
‘We’re not asleep. And Mummy and Midnight aren’t asleep.’ Says Mayhem.
‘Everyone should be asleep.’
‘But I want to play Star Wars. It’s my destiny,’ says Mayhem.
I can’t help letting out a snort, which startles Midnight.
‘Chocolate Balls!’ shouts Midnight. ‘Chocolate Balls!’
‘Shhhh’ I try to keep calm. It is 3.30am.
‘NO.’ Says Midnight and pulls himself up in his cot. ‘Down there’ he says pointing to the door.
I try to ignore him by rolling onto my side and staring at a cobweb under his cot.
‘DOWN THERE! DOWN THERE! DOWN THERE!’ He shouts.
Mayhem appears at the door.
‘Why are you on the floor mummy? Midnight wants to go downstairs.’
My husband lifts Midnight out of his cot as I heave myself to my feet.
Downstairs we sip coffee in silence, while Midnight eats grapes and Mayhem watches Lego Star Wars. Milk is fast asleep.
‘Don’t worry, we’ve only got six more years for them all to sleep through.’ My husband yawns.
I nod, the dust from the floor has crept into my nose and I close my eyes and sneeze.
‘That was like a power nap.’
My husband grins. ‘Bless you.’