Repunzel is my daughter’s favourite bedtime story. And despite my best efforts, has remained her favourite bedtime story for several months.
What started off as a short five minute recital that sent her to sleep in minutes, evolved into a magnum opus.
There were now plot twists, character backstories, several costume changes and a method-acting masterclass.
There was even an intermission.
It was my own fault. Several weeks into reading the same nonsense I got bored.
Foolishly at the end of one particular section when the witch stole an infant Repunzel from the care of her (morally questionable) parents, I flourished a witches cackle.
I knew the very second it left my mouth that it spelled trouble and instead of my daughter continuing along her drowsy path to sleep, she sat up, wide-eyed and awake.
This was new! This was exiting! There was a strangely funny sound emitting from Daddy. Daddy can make strangely funny sounds! Daddy must always make strangely funny sounds!
Not having learned my lesson, some weeks later, I was having to multi task: recite the story from memory and prevent my son from crawling directly into the only non-cushioned corner in my home. It was then that I decided that the witch needed a touch of Scoliosis of the back. (Of course, I was picking up my son, but an artiste knows not the boundaries from whence to draw inspiration.)
Essentially, it was either at this point or when I used her duvet as the witch’s hood and cape that my fate was sealed.
Bowing to my audience’s demands, I added several characters to my repertoire: the Prince (a posh, bumbling, Hugh Grant sort with inverted apostrophes for eyebrows), her parents (two people out of their depth but with great potential for a bestselling vegan cookbook) and finally Rapunzel (the “been-stuck-in-a-tower, not-great-with-film-titles sort).
No longer was a bedtime story a place of calm, it was now a time of wonder and of infinite possibilities!
I would like to say it was all me, but my daughter elected to join in also.
Not to upstage me, she selected the not huge, but hugely important role of a Street Cat in Act 1 and the Prince’s horse in Act 2. Given that both appear once each on a page, as a picture, I’m delighted to let you know that she took the bare bones she was given and really ran with developing the characters. Literally. Even until 9pm sometimes.
Enough was enough. I said as much to my wife.
“Enough is enough” I said.
This had gotten out of proportion. Bedtime was taking an hour when it used to be 10 minutes and I wasn’t getting enough time with my baby son. I was trapped.
I was – for want of a better analogy – Repunzel.
Then, suddenly, we had to go abroad. Due to work commitments, I could only stay for two weeks but then my wife and children had to stay for a few weeks more.
As much as I knew I was going to miss them dreadfully when I had to return, in some small, insignificant, minute, part of my soul I might have been ever so slightly grateful.
NO MORE SODDING REPUNZEL! See ya Hugh Grant! Bye bye, other people I may have ripped off from The Simpsons!
(I may have even let out a little Al Pacino “Hoo-rah!”)
I was finally free. Even if for three weeks, those three weeks could be instrumental in resetting the bedtime story clock. This could be a brave new world. I could have time to actually do stuff.
I might finally have time to – gasp! – catch-up on boxsets, book a holiday, get around to understanding why my noise cancelling headphone order actually got cancelled. A world of infinite possibilities laid before me. I was king of my own destiny.
Then I Skyped my daughter.
And then I did this….