“It’s up time Dad!”
I haven’t set a wake up alarm for years now, I don’t need to you see because somehow I have sired the speaking clock.
“It most certainly isn’t up time Alex, it is, in fact, bed time”
I turn on the bedside lamp and a quick glance in the mirror confirms that it must still be “bed time” because my face has no elasticity in it. My face is still asleep. If I’m honest it looks like someone has drawn my face, on a ballbag.
“Back to bed please Son”
“But Dad I’ve done a poo”
“I’ll alert the media, please go back to……..exactly where have you done a poo?”
“…………come and see!”
Instantly I am awake and creeping naked down the hallway, ninja-like – senses on high alert for hidden faeces.
I realise that I must look mad: in exactly the way my Dad used to look for burglars – like a naked security guard. My Son follows me, pleased with his cunning. Luckily it’s just in the potty, a massive relief; trust me, I’m still haunted by the “THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE POO ON THE STAIRS IN THE NIGHT”. We give it a goldfish funeral where we both say a few words and it’s then I realise that for good or ill I am actually up for the day – it’s 4.57am on a cold dark Saturday morning.
Not wanting to wake anyone else I put on a dressing gown and we tiptoe downstairs in the dark, leaving the girls asleep and warm in their beds. I pick him up and we watch the sunrise from the back of the house. In my arms he feels light and warm, tired but excited to be awake. Outside the cold sky is free from clouds and a heavy frost dusts the silent fields and hedges. On the horizon a peach glow is growing, enticing shadows from trees that stretch slowly towards us over the white rime. Amid the stillness we spot a vixen and her cub trotting across the field, coming closer, approaching the house. The cub is a small dancing silhouette, winsome and playful, every so often falling behind: pouncing on invisible prey. The mother pauses frequently, her breath just visible in the pink light of dawn, giving her child the ultimate luxuries: time and space. Her poise is recognisable: a relaxed exasperation in her patience, a parental understanding of youth’s folly, a sad acceptance of it ending too soon. They disappear together into a thick hedge and for a while we watch in silence to see if they’ll reappear. The sun leaves the horizon and the early shadows recede; the house is quiet. The world is quiet. I look at my son and he is asleep again, one arm draped around my neck, face bathed in sunrise. We stay that way for a long long time. I don’t see the fox and her cub again which is both sad and wonderful. These moments so fleeting and finite – so precious.