In the final stages of preparing to launch (or as Havi calls it, ‘brunch’) this business, I got stuck. All I needed to do was make final tweaks to the website, and instead I was staying up very, very late while not actually doing anything productive.
A lot of this was because I was exhausted and overstimulated from moving house and my body clock was screwed. But I was also noticing some difficulties with acceptance. Some old-school ‘Why can’t you just do it now now now’ and some really heavy-duty bed-dread. Bed-dread is a semi-constant for me, but when it’s that bad, something’s up.
Hence, I set up a monster brunch for my brunch monsters. I imagined us outside at this beautiful white wrought-iron picnic table that looked like it came out of Jolly Holiday, only bigger. Gobstopper Penguin was head waiter. The table was laden with everyone’s favourite foods, plus some favourite monster foods like bones and rocks. Around the table were me, several members of my headcast, and some empty places for the monsters.
Five monsters showed up in total. This was the first.
Big Sister: We’d like to extend a warm welcome to all the brunch monsters out there. This is a friendly brunch where you can sit down with us and tell us your troubles over a nice bit of food. Come when you’re ready.
(Zebedee bounces in.)
Zebedee: (in the same voice my dad used every night when I was little) TIIME for bed, said Zebedee!
Mr. H: (amused recognition) Oh man!!
Little Sister: (dismayed!) You!!
Big Sister: Welcome, Zebedee. Have a seat and tell us what’s on your mind. Would you like some tea? Pancakes?
Zebedee: Oh… thanks. (bounces onto a chair.) I’m having trouble getting Eve to go to bed. My normal tactic of yelling ‘Time for Bed’ isn’t getting results. Which is understandable because bed is a scary lonely place where you get sent to by force because you’re small and weak and need more sleep than normal people. But if she doesn’t sleep this business is going to fail!
Little Sister: (coming out from under the table) It’s not lonely now. I’ve got all these people with me. And nobody gets to force me. But I DO hate needing sleep. It’s embarrassing! And I finally don’t HAVE to be up early and I want to have fun with that! I don’t want to have a bedtime ever again!
Zebedee: (having an identity crisis) But – I said time for bed! That’s what I said!
Little Sister: I hate bedtime! I can feel my insides sinking when I just say the word!
Big Sister: Okay, folks. It seems that part of the problem here is not the bed, but the time. You both agree that bed is important, right?
Zebedee: Bed is my entire reason for living!
Mr. H: …I’d make a dirty joke but it seems kinda cruel when he’s a spring from the waist down.
Little Sister: What?
Mr. H: Nothing!
Big Sister: (trying not to crack up) We’re talking about whether bed’s important, sweetie.
Little Sister: Well, yes. I don’t like needing sleep, but I know it’s important. And I wouldn’t really want to be awake forever and not have any dreams. And bed can be fun. Hiding under the covers, having conversations with your animals, having time to think and think and think… Really, I only hate bed because I don’t have a choice about it. Even if other people don’t force me, biology does.
Big Sister: Biology also forces you to eat and go to the loo, but you don’t hate those. What’s different about bed?
Little Sister: I guess the memory of being forced by Mummy and Daddy and feeling angry and scared.
Big Sister: And when Zebedee insists on a specific TIME for bed, all that stuff comes up.
Little Sister: Yes.
Big Sister: Zebedee, you hear that?
Zebedee: Yes but she has to have a full night’s sleep before a session or it won’t go well!
Big Sister: She hasn’t before the last two and they’ve gone fantastically. She catches up at other times.
Zebedee: Oh. But what if she misses a session because she stayed up late and overslept?
Big Sister: She’ll say sorry and reschedule. As long as it doesn’t happen often, it won’t be a problem.
Zebedee: So basically, I can actually let her be totally sovereign about bed and the world won’t end.
Big Sister: Not only that, she’ll actually sleep more, and at more regular hours, because she won’t feel the need to rebel.
Zebedee: So the best way for me to do my job is to stop doing my job?
Big Sister: Yes! Also? The real reason you exist is to make going to bed fun.
Big Sister: When parents invoke a children’s TV character, it’s usually because they’re trying to make things fun!
Zebedee: …Oh. That was supposed to be fun?! Her father wasn’t trying to annoy her? He didn’t notice that she heard, ‘Time for bed, said Zebedee!’ as ‘Doom doom doom doom doom’?
Big Sister: He was doing the best he could to make a difficult experience fun for her.
Zebedee: Oh. Oh, I – oh. (tearing up) All these years I thought I was a harbinger of doom. Why didn’t anyone tell me?
Big Sister: You’re a magical stoner jack-in-the-box! You go Boing! Have you ever actually seen an episode of the Magic Roundabout?
Zebedee: Of course not. We didn’t have a television.
Big Sister: YouTube break!
(About 15 minutes later)
Big Sister: You see what I mean?
Zebedee: Yes! That was mindblowing! And the ‘time for bed’ thing was almost… cosy. I didn’t say it in an annoying voice at all!
Little Sister: Can we study lucid dreaming?
Little Sister: Because then instead of saying ‘I’m going to sleep,’ I can say, ‘I’m going to study dreams’!
Zebedee: Of course! I should think I’d be good at that. Because apparently I’m quite an authority on surreal randomness.
Little Sister: Woohoo!
Zebedee: Could somebody pass the jam?