At the moment, perhaps even more than when the spawn were tiny, I'm exploring the outer frontiers of tired. Noone sleeps. Nessun fucking dorma. Fingers has a consumptive cough and "mauvaises pensées", as he whispers to me, tugging on my ear in the wee small hours that should not exist. Lashes hates exams and school and closing his eyes and needs to discuss DEATH. The dog keeps getting itself snarled up in the duvet cover and asphyxiating itself by wrapping discarded bras around its neck and needing to be rescued. I need to sit up and twitch until I can barely see for no apparent reason other than evolutionarily disastrous stupidity.
I am not a proper insomniac, and I function very badly without sleep. I am filled with admiration for people who cope. People who cope on no sleep: you are fucking amazing. I have identified four separate grades of tired evening in my current canon.
1. Irritably tired
(5-6 hours sleep)
Snappy. Itchy eyes, and irresistible urge to rub them, smearing eye liner all over face. Everyone forced to eat pasta. Clear up as if wading through treacle. Sit slackjawed in front of screen for far too long, doing nothing. Go to bed eventually in jumper and tracksuit bottoms after sketchy facewash and lame poke at teeth with toothbrush.
Stock phrase: "OH FOR GOD'S SAKE".
2. Fuck off, world tired
(4-5 hours sleep)
Irrationally shouting for no good reason. Strange itchy growths in corners of eyes to be rubbed until whole face becomes red and itchy. (No make up to rub off - too tired to apply). Oven chips for everyone. No attempt to clear up - dump all plates in sink and go to bed still half clothed. No face washing. Take toothbrush to bed and spit out into a water glass.
Stock phrase: "OH FOR FUCK'S SAKE".
3. Red mist tired
(3-4 hours sleep)
Eye-poppingly filled with undirected rage, alternating with crying jags. Red craters where eyes should be. English and French meld into one incomprehensible mass of self-pitying, whiny crap. Tell children to scavenge for their own dinner in kitchen cupboards. Shout at them when they uncover stash of Wispa Golds. Eat whatever is on the kitchen counter - cucumber peel, old congealing bowls of breakfast cereal, phone bills, while thinking Sad Thoughts. Go to bed fully clothed, but remove bra, because, you know, I still have standards. Take toothbrush to bed but forget to use it. Consider peeing in water glass rather than staggering 5 yards to the loo, but decide just to hold it in until morning.
Stock phrase: "I just can't stand it" (delivered in quavering sob to totally indifferent audience)
4. Dead tired
(2-3 hours sleep)
Catatonic. Face looks like an abandoned bowl of gruel. Itchy from head to foot and use up remaining shred of energy scratching. Too feeble to either shout or cry. Dry rattling noise comes from throat when I try to speak. Vaguely aware of presence of some children at one point, not sure where they came from or who they are. Lose track of them once they both have a jumbo box of Swan Vestas , 20 Woodbines and the Racing Post. Sit down "just for a minute" in full work clothes, including tights, bra and possibly shoes. Wake up five hours later with dog sitting whimpering on my head, wearing my best Aubade (unearthed from previous night somewhere down bed) tangled around its neck. If I had a water glass I would definitely pee in it. I don't. I probably ate it in my sleep.
Stock phrase: none, see above. A sort of guttural rasping noise at best.
This week has been a 2-3, and there was a delightful 4 on Sunday night, but today was a 1. I am so very proud. Progress!