I have been getting up very early to cycle around the by lanes and country roads in Bognor and surrounding areas, and boasting about it. "Guess what I do?" I say to people as they are introduced to me. "I cycle," I continue before they can reply, "at about 5am every morning because I love it and there are no cars and I am back and bathed and ready to get Giant Boy up by 7." The sub text is "Beat that."
|Road signs from an early morning bike ride around Bognor. This sign tells us to beware of ducks on bendy roads|
But I am only human. The early morning bike rides are beginning to make me very tired, but I feel duty bound to continue. Recently they have been slacking, but I have not wanted to tell anyone in case they stop thinking I am amazing. As I lay in my bed last night, I decided it was at last time to sleep late, to give in, and abandon any thoughts of cycling in the morning. I would not even wake in order to have a painful debate about whether I should go or not, and then not go. I would simply say to myself as I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep, that cycling is off, it is cancelled, it is kerput. To emphasise the decision, I closed my curtains. Normally I wake with the light, and like it that way; closing the curtains was a statement of intent, that I would slumber late, until the withdrawal from tea kicked in. It was all so simple and so glorious.
I left Giant Boy with friends downstairs. How sweet, I thought, my baby has some friends to play with. Giant Boy is 16 and six foot six inches, he doesn't do very much at the moment, he is working out how he got this big and tends to lie down a lot. Having friends over meant he was feeling a bit more normal.
At 5am I was woken by a vigorous knocking on my door. Giant Boy was outside, a beaming smile on his face, cycling shorts on, a tray of food in his hands, and another on the floor beside him. "Arise, Mother!" he cried," I have brought you breakfast, and we shall go riding together!" His face said "Love me, pat me on the head, throw me a stick, I want to play" and my face said, "Where is God when I need him?"
We sat on my bed, the curtains drawn, and he told me that he had not been to bed yet. He had, he said, looked out at the rising sun and felt such peace and wonder, that he decided to join me for my early morning bike ride. So he made us breakfast, and looked forward to an early morning jaunt, bonding with his showy offy mum. He handed me my tray, with a pot of tea, a doorstep of toast and butter, a flapjack and some ketchup. "You can share my soup", he said, and on his tray he had a bowl of tomato soup, some scrambled eggs, some pasta with cheese sauce, some added spicy salsa dip, and some lettuce. "Where have you been if you have been up all night?" I asked, concerned and confused, and received no reply. He had keeled over and was asleep on the pillow next to me. I put the trays on the floor, covered him up, and got back into bed.
It is different with someone sleeping next to you when you had planned not to have someone sleeping next to you. Fitfully I dozed, wondering how it was that I was no longer resting and feeling I was having a treat, wondering what it was about having a giant teenager snoring next to you with bits of lettuce stuck to his teeth in the very early morning, that changed the atmosphere.
And then the phone rang. Oh, I thought, an early morning call means trouble! It is Other Son, who is known for getting into pickles with last trains to anywhere, and I braced myself. "It is your Mother!" said a happy voice at the other end of the phone, "I know you get up early to cycle and I am up at dawn this morning myself, so I thought I would call you for a long and detailed chat and bond with you in the early hours."
|Culprits. Looks like they planned it all doesn't it? Giant Boy and Grandma. Butter wouldn't melt in their mouths.|
And so, today is different to how I imagined it would be. Isn't life like that? Mother is happily doing her thing ("I slept so well", she said, "twelve hours of peace and I feel so wonderful now") and Giant Boy is upstairs in my bed dreaming of poetry, dawn, pasta and lettuce, and being nice to his mum. I, not being beaten, am cycling to my friend Claire's house, where she will tell me it isn't my fault, and that I am still amazing, and that cycling 300 yards to her house is just as good as having done a few miles at dawn.