I have just finished erecting an Ikea bunk bed on my own: Parental leave

Dispatches from the pre-school frontline
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Four years ago today, I had a small human forcibly removed from my stomach by a man with an enormous knife; 48 months later, there is no man with a knife, there is a second child, and I have just finished erecting an Ikea bunk bed on my own. If that's not progress, I muse, while applying the final twist of the Allen key and standing back to admire my vaguely lopsided but standing-nonetheless handiwork, then progress can bite me.

I can't say it's been easy, assembling a mountain of wooden planks, each subtly different from the other, as demarcated by nothing more than a pin-sized hole into a structure that will withstand the relentless beatings of a small child. I'm not ashamed to say that I have cried, and shouted, and even thrown a very small and as-yet-unidentified piece of plastic at our sleeping cat.

But our daughter will only turn four once, I think, and a bunk bed is all she's wanted since becoming obsessed by Topsy and Tim on CBeebies. (A series made all the weirder since I turned on BBC1 at 8pm last Friday to find Topsy and Tim's mum – a relaxed and joyful character who routinely addresses her children with the prefix 'Twintastic' – having it away with Max Branning from EastEnders in a car.) In any case, six hours later, the bunk bed is complete, and our daughter is thrilled.

At 6.30pm that evening she announces it is bedtime and that she doesn't need a story. At 1.39am she appears in our doorway: "Actually mummy, maybe I don't want a bunk bed any more; maybe I just want a bike?".