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Many years ago I used to babysit. One family I babysat for had four young girls – ones I could mostly cope with bar the time one wet herself on my jeans and I had nothing spare to change into (so I phoned my mum and dad to bring me some clean jeans, as they were only up the road).

I always thought it was kind of magical, almost in a Santa sense that Wee Willie Winkie would be outside checking everyone was fast asleep, and I’d take it one step further and point to the stars and say how it was Wee Willie Winkie waiting to come down from the sky, but keeping an eye on where to go first to make sure the children were in their beds from afar. Yep, I thought I was thinking a good, harmless thing.

So it was with a kind of horror I got a message via my mum (who worked for the family) that it’d be great if I didn’t tell them about Wee Willie Winkie any more as actually, three of the four girls were having nightmares and were too scared to look out of the window. Whoops. (this was also the same family I had my first ever babysitting experience when they left out so many cakes the first time, I decided to have a bit of each one, which ended up being most of them. Oh I did it SO wrong back then)

I’d done babysitting for a friend, and had told her little boy about Wee Willie Winkie too, and he hadn’t been too fussed about it (maybe it’s a girl – boy thing?), and had looked out of the window delighted, hoping he’d get a glimpse…

Fast forward about 25 years and now it’s my turn. Except it’s me telling H about Wee Willie Winkie and how he’ll be checking on her and making sure she’s in bed by 8pm, so she’d better hurry, creating some kind of crazy pressure on her to get to bed before someone who doesn’t exist catches her. Maybe? This is the worst thing about being a parent, knowing where you’ve gone wrong in the past and trying to put it right in the future (and probably failing). So far no traumatised toddler, but I’m watching close… but it’s so easy to slip into those habits of the past, though we’ve not looked out the window yet for Mr Winkie… I remember doing that myself with my mum when I was little, though maybe it was me creating it and wanting to check if I could see him, and being rushed to bed because my mum wanted her night to herself? Who knows… I can’t revisit it.

I hope I don’t scar my little girl with tales made up, but then if I was to look at it properly, then I’m doing that with Santa, the Tooth Fairy and so on – so actually, I’ll take less time beating myself up about it, and just plod on and hope for the best… it’s all you can do.