My wife left me and the kids home alone and went for dinner. I absolutely aced bedtime and I know the boys agree

English Hindus

My wife went out for dinner with a friend last night. She rarely does this, but I am always delighted when she does, as its nice for her to spend some time not being a mother. This sounds like the sort of opening sentence to a Guardian column designed to make people think the writer is a wonderful, understanding husband, but I mean it. I am almost always out working in the evenings, and so I was actually relishing the prospect of doing bedtime.

The second my wife left, I could sense our three boys realise that piss was there for the taking. We stagger our boys bedtimes by half an hour, and the two younger ones came to see me to explain that they couldnt sleep. They have never told my wife they cant sleep, which means one of two things:

1 This is the first time they have had trouble sleeping in their entire lives; or

2 They had a meeting and agreed that it would be remiss of them not to exploit the utter moron who had been left in charge of them for the evening. My inexperience excited them.

I explained that they would be allowed 15 minutes to watch television as long as they went to bed the second I told them to. They agreed wholeheartedly, and I sat with them with the confidence of a man who thought he had been firm, when in actual fact he has authorised a completely unprecedented late television session because he cant parent his own kids.

They were kind to me and didnt protest when the new, agreed time came, and headed straight to bed. Our eldest son, however, then came to see me to explain that it seemed unfair he had to stick to his bedtime when I had been so lenient with the others. This now felt like a coordinated move, and I was starting to feel like a casino owner in a Ranganathan production of Oceans Three. But I calmed myself and explained to my son that, all things considered, a 15-minute extension to his day seemed only fair.

We were sitting talking about Arsenal, when our middle son returned to inform me that he still couldnt sleep, and he suspected it was because of the stimulation of watching television. This was an inspired move. He knew he was putting my life in danger, because if my wife returned to find them still up, and they told her it was because I had allowed them to watch television after bedtime, they would no longer be in trouble and I would. I very nearly applauded.

I decided to fake some anger and send him straight to bed. He went, but only to write a short note explaining to me that he felt it was unfair that I was allowing our eldest to stay awake, and how disappointed he felt Mum would be if she knew what was going on. He accompanied it with a drawing of my eldest son and me having our chat, which is the first time I have received a veiled threat with an accompanying illustration.

By now, I had lost control to such a degree that it had become a real possibility the children were going to tell me what time they had decided I should go to bed. It was then, however, that I found leverage. The new Avengers trailer had just been released. I seized my chance. I explained to them that I felt I hadnt handled bedtime well, but I would let them watch the trailer if they went to bed straight away. They agreed, the trailer was watched and they went to bed and when my wife returned I told her to go out whenever she wanted, as long as there was an imminent Marvel release. What a father.

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