Our house at night, April 2010
Exploring the adult-world of night-time is very exciting to young children.

Long after everyone else is in bed, we’ve been able to share some special one-on-one times with our children. It doesn’t happen with planning, but is rather the intersection of a very-awake child with some grown-up activity.

Sometimes circumstances will mean that you’ll want to wake your children in the night to teach them something. I still remember getting up when I was eight-years-old to see Halley’s Comet low on the horizon. I have a visual memory of it suspended over the tree-line.

I also clearly remember the time (when I was three) when my dad woke me up to show me a raccoon rummaging through the garbage can at the back door. We were staying in Michigan on our way to Africa, and this is one of my few memories from America.

I can’t share with you how to plan for this, except to say that you should expect these moments and seize them when you have the chance. They’ll provide a wonderful memory for your child and a special opportunity for you to share a part of your life that they may never usually see.

Last week, David arrived home very late from a job. Three-year-old Brioni was still awake when he got home, and because she hadn’t seen him all day (he had left the house before she was awake), she was eager for a bit of Daddy-attention. She sat closely next to him as he ate his dinner.

As she listened to our discussions, Brioni played with some items on the kitchen counter, a beaded necklace and two cupcake-moulds, shaping the necklace into a wide-mouthed smile and making the two circular moulds into eyes. I pulled a measuring spoon out of the drawer, and that became the nose.

A pair of chocolate-covered almonds manifested briefly as eyeballs until they disappeared into Brioni’s mouth. It was a fun time of just enjoying Brioni as an individual and lavishing attention on her.

But David had a dilemma. It wasn’t until he had gotten halfway home that he realised he had left my mop on the job. This wouldn’t normally be a big deal, except that 1) the mop was pretty expensive to start off with 2) he had used the mop to apply polish, which — if left overnight — would harden and ruin the mop and the mop-cloth.

After examining all the options, we decided the cheapest thing to do would be for David to actually drive back to his work-site and recover the mop. (To make the trip even less-efficient, our car was in for repairs, and the only vehicle we had was his huge work truck.)

But David invited Brioni to accompany him on his trip. They were gone for almost two hours. When they drove to the work-site, they couldn’t rouse the site manager (who lived on the premises) in order to get in.

So David had to leap over a fence topped with barbed-wire, and Brioni crawled in through a hole in a bit of loose fencing. They walked over to the site manager’s house and peaked in the windows, spying him asleep in front of the loudly blaring television.

So David headed over to the place he had been working and grabbed our mop. He shined his torch into the building and showed Brioni the new floor-coverings, explaining how he had been at this place during the day and worked to put the vinyl down.

Finally, they headed out of the locked yard the same way they got in — over the fence and through a hole. Then Brioni and David drove home in the truck.

For Brioni, her late-night adventures were taken matter-of-factly. Perhaps she imagines this is what grown-ups do almost every night! When she got home, she explained to me what she had seen, and the next day she enjoyed telling her bigger sister about her trip, recounting the details and still revelling in her delight at being up and out so late at night!