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MUMSAYS.

Byline: Abbie Wightwick

Staying up all night has a strange allure for children. They think they're missing out on fun being had while they're asleep, little knowing their parents are usually five minutes behind them.

Steve Dube in Carmarthen All three of my children are forever asking how many times I've stayed up all night, what I did, why I did it and when? It starts off romantically with allnight concerts, sitting on beaches watching the sun go down, climbing hills to watch the sun come up or catching overnight buses to exotic locations.

All this impresses them until it progresses into descriptions of nocturnal vigils with wakeful babies and sick toddlers.

Watching the sun rise through hospital windows after 24 hours with no kip and lots of worry isn't much fun I tell them.

But it's a rite of childhood to stay up as late as possible.

Children's "sleep overs", or "wake overs" as they're known in our house, are the high spot of the year.

DVDs are selected, lists of food written and possible locations for sleeping (ha!) debated.

As an adult in charge my sense of dread grows to fever pitch by the morning of the event.

How much sleep will I get? Will the house be trashed and have I bought enough/too many sweets? On to child three I regard myself as something of an expert at sleep-over management but was still a little nervous when the nine year old invited two friends with boundless energy to join him for the night.

We decided keeping them busy was the best course of action.

We went climbing at a climbing centre, played football in the park until 10pm and fed them vast quantities of food before getting the sweets out.

By midnight they were full of beans as we propped our eyelids open with matchsticks.

Eventually they settled down and we fell asleep confident they must be worn out.

At 3am muffled conversation woke me. I went to my son's room. It was empty.

All three of them were downstairs playing on the wii with the sound turned down.

A trail of chocolate wrappers hinted at their progress from the computer to table football game and finally the wii.

"We're not tired," they insisted as I shepherded them back to bed.

By 9am they were wide awake again and ready to go.

By 9.10am I had that strange dizzy feeling you get when sleep deprivation kicks in.

"Come on mum, you can go in goal and then you won't have to run around too much," my son said kindly as he suggested an outing to the park.
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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 29, 2011
Words:442
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