Why you shouldn't buy cheap watches, and investigate odd sleeping patterns in kids.

Posted by Ross Poulton on Mon 18 June 2012 #fatherhood #cheap watches #hiking #personal

A fun anecdote, showing why you should investigate issues that occur too regularly to be co-incidence.

December, 2009 - Tasmania, Australia

A few years ago, my wife and I went to Tasmania and walked the stunningly gorgeous Overland Track, a 65 kilometer (5-day) walk through isolated north-west-central Tasmania. If you're into hiking, you need to get yourself to Tasmania.

Wanting to keep track of time, Lauren bought a new watch. It was cheap, plastic, and bright purple - but at least it wasn't an expensive dress watch - perfect for the great outdoors.

Way before dawn one morning at 4am, sleeping in our expensive hiking tent on a camping platform in the middle of the bush (there are tent platforms throughout the park so as to protect the ground - this is a delicate area) the alarm went off. This little purple watch just started beeping, and never gave up.

In a bushwalking-induced tired haze, Lauren tried to disable the alarm. Floundering and quickly becoming frustrated, she commandeered my pocket knife and tried to stab the watch into silence - somehow avoiding tearing a hole in the floor of our nearly-new tent.

A week later, we returned home and packed our hiking gear away in our spare bedroom. Every now and then we take some of the gear out for a weekend, then it goes back into the cupboard. Unused items, such as the purple watch, slowly float to the bottom of our gear bags.

September, 2011 - Melbourne, Australia

In September last year, our little boy was born. We gave him our "spare room", and cleared out some of the junk in the cupboard. Half of our hiking gear got shifted to the garage, but for now half of it stayed at the bottom of the cupboard in the spare room.

Life's different, when you've got kids. Your "room to dump everything you don't need right now" room isn't yours, any more.

(I'm sure you know where this is going)

Saturday, 16th June, 2012 - Melbourne, Australia

Our kid's sick. First he was teething, which seems to hit the immune system pretty hard. So he got a cold, which he promptly gave to Lauren and I. Finally, it morphed into full-blown Tonsillitis, so it's safe to say none of us are getting a very good night's sleep right now.

Because he's been sick, the boy wakes regularly during the night. Poor fella. The really odd thing, though, was that he was waking right on 4am every night. The accuracy of his night waking was uncanny.

As parents, we are trying to teach our son to self-settle. If he wakes during the night, we try to give him 5-10 minutes by himself to re-settle, and much of the time it works. He learns that he doesn't need us by his side to fall asleep, and we get to stay just that little bit warmer.

So when you added all of this up, we had a chain of events something like this:

  • 4:00am The alarm went off at 4am, waking our son. Being in another room, it was too quiet for us to hear.
  • 4:01am We'd stay in bed for 5 minutes to see if he'd re-settle.
  • 4:04am After beeping for a few minutes, the watch would give up and turn it's alarm off.
  • 4:05am After 5 minutes, we'd sometimes have to go and settle him down. In a sleepy haze, we'd notice it was always 4:05am when we went in to see him.

With his illness this weekend, though, Lauren decided to settle him earlier - right away, in fact.

When she got into his bedroom at 4:01am on Sunday morning to help him get back to sleep, she heard it. The beeping. Flashes of pocket knives and cold tent floors came rushing back, and she managed to fish the wash out of it's bag. The "I'm going flat, dammit, gimme a new battery!" state of the watch had re-triggered it's incessant alarm at 4am each day.

Sunday, 17th June 2012 - Melbourne, Australia.

Revenge: we drowned the watch whilst cleaning the dishes.