"I keep waking up, don't I?!" Katie crowed in delight.
I wasn't quite sure how to respond to this; as far as I could see, my daughter doesn't make any more of a habit of waking up than the average person who does it on a daily basis. Rather less so, if anything, since she usually has to be woken up each morning (with some difficulty), due to our schedules being non-conducive to her getting enough sleep most nights.
It seemed, however, that what she was referring to was the two occasions in recent weeks when she woke up in the middle of the night. On the first occasion, Barry found the poor little mite sobbing in the hall, having apparently had a nightmare about cobwebs in her bed. (Yes, I am aware of just how poorly this reflects on my housekeeping skills, thank you.)
I made a big show of brushing away imaginary cobwebs, but this apparently only kept them at bay for a few seconds and I ended up having to lie down next to her until she fell asleep again, which apparently did the trick. Or perhaps I don't get the credit; when I came to get her the next morning, she assured me that Froggyted (her current favourite stuffed toy) had got rid of the cobwebs. She did have some concerns over the following days as to whether they would come back again, but decided that, if this were to happen, she would brush them into Jamie's bed. "Jamie don't be bothered of cobwebs" she told me. I felt this assessment was accurate enough, even if the grammar wasn't. Fortunately it did not become an issue – Katie's dreams have, so far, remained unplagued by imaginary cobwebs. I suppose at some point I really ought to go deal with the real ones.
The second time, when I woke half-way through the night to find her standing next to the bed, I vaguely assumed it was another bad dream, but being a bit too sleep-bleared to deal with anything requiring coherency I simply went for the time-honoured option of scooping her up into bed with us (and then returning her to her own bed some hours later when I was woken again to find that she had twisted into a perpendicular position and forced me over to the edge of the mattress). After getting up the next morning, she explained that what she had actually wanted to do was to ask us what buttons to press on a computer.
"That depends on what you want it to do," I told her.
"It was a pretend computer," Katie explained. "It tickles you and then puts you on the floor and then goes back to bed."
I processed this for a moment.
"So you mean," I replied in the solemn tones of one seeking clarification, "it tickles you…" I tickled her, " puts you on the floor…" I lowered her from my lap to the floor, "and then goes back to bed." I fell sideways onto the nearby beanbag in artistic imitation of going to bed. "I was pretending to be a pretend computer," I explained to her.
Katie, of course, loved this so much I had to repeat the procedure a few times, although I don't know if we ever figured out the answer to the original questions of what buttons to press on the hypothetical computer. (Although she did then tell me that one of the little boys from her nursery had pressed the wrong button, thereby leading the computer to skip the tickling stage and move on directly to putting him on the floor and going back to bed. Such an easy mistake to make, I'm sure.)
"But today I woke up by myself!" Katie continued. (This isn't the clearest of narratives, is it? We've now finished the flashbacks and moved back to the point at which she made the statement that started this post.) Indeed, she had – I'd been downstairs with Jamie, who usually wakes up before his younger sister, when I heard a noise on the stairs and found Katie, tousle-haired and beaming, making her way down them. "Today, I didn't dream about a computer that tickles you and puts you on the floor and then goes back to bed!"
I felt quite sorry to hear it. She seemed to be accepting this lack with equanimity, but I can't help feeling that surely anyone's day can only be the poorer for failing to dream about a computer that tickles you and puts you on the floor and then goes back to bed.