Wee Willie Winkie


Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Upstairs and downstairs, in his nightgown.
Tapping at the windows, crying at the locks,
“Are all the children in their beds? It’s past 10 o’clock!”

As a child, Wee Willie Winkie was the nursery rhyme character who gave me the most heebie-jeebies. The thought of a pointy little old man, all stern judgement and harsh eyes peeking in on kids whilst he ran through the streets despite being ready for bed himself. Where’s Goosey Gander when you need her? Surely Willie Winkie was the man who needing chucking around by the left leg.

He used to make his bedtime rounds at ‘8 o’clock’ in my day too. Victorian children obviously had a later bedtime, despite their forced labour and lack of X-boxes. It meant I had the fear of Willie a good two hours earlier than need be each night.

(The irony is that I longed to be on Jim’ll Fix It and Jimmy Saville turned out to be the biggest bogeyman of the 1970s/80s. No one warned us kids about him.)

I’ve clearly not passed on my fear to my own children. They’re more of the

Boys and girls come out to play,
The sun is shining as bright as day

variety. Damn and blast it. I clearly didn’t invest enough time educating them in the various bogeymen ready to pounce at the first sign of errant behaviour.

Which is why I’m sat here in Boo’s room, watching a DVD, with her chattering on about anything and everything – a 6-year-old stream of consciousness – whilst Noodles plays with her Happyland windmill, despite the fact that it’s close to 11pm!

I thought I’d have had a nice quiet evening too. As planned, we headed to the woods for a picnic and a play. We all walked for miles and they chucked themselves around the adventure playground for well over an hour. Surely they would be ready for an early night tonight!

Maybe I overdid it though. Noodles fell asleep in the car on the way home. Carrying him over the threshold his head lolled before slumping on my shoulder. He was out for the count on the sofa for a couple of hours.

Which is really why I’m sat here, the bedtimes pushed back to the brink. Due to his nap, Noodles wouldn’t fall asleep when I took him up to bed. So Boo couldn’t get put to bed either. (Heaven forbid Husband should help out. Grrr. I even overheard him tell Boo ‘It’s Mummy’s fault you’re not in bed yet. She hasn’t come down.’ The kids need to get to sleep, yet evidentially Husband needs a wake-up call!) I hope Wee Willie Winkie takes this into account and punishes Husband for shirking any parental duty should he spy upon our still-awake children.

There’s more to Wee Willie Winkie than I’d ever heard before until I Googled it tonight to ensure the lyrics were as I remembered. My favourite newly-discovered line has to be

Weary is a mother who has a dusty child…
Who always has a battle with sleep before he’ll close an eye.

Amen to that one. Which is ultimately why I’m sat in Boo’s room with a DVD on, one child chattering and the other playing on the floor despite it being long after their bedtimes. Because the person I’ve tired out the most is me.


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