THEY'VE all wet the bed from time to time when they were little. Our eldest even managed to wet the bathroom scales which he mistook for the toilet in the wee small hours when he was a toddler.

Another time, one of my shoes got nicely soaked.

But in Max, aged four, we have our first serial bed-wetter. Hardly a night goes by without him having an accident in the early hours of the morning.

It's terrible. He appears at our bedside at some unearthly hour, whispering that he's wet the bed. My wife leaps out of bed and I drag myself out after her, trying to work out where I am.

She changes the bed and his pyjama bottoms while I stand there, watching through super-glued eyes, and giving moral support from the sidelines.

I must admit there's been a little bit of progress lately. The penny's finally dropped that he has to get out of bed when he needs to 'go' so my wife, who has more acute hearing that me, is woken by him stumbling around in the dark.

Usually, she's out of bed in a flash, grabs him, puts him on the toilet in the nick of time and I don't even have to get out from under the duvet.

Once, his big sister, aged nine, was even discovered trying to manhandle him onto the loo after she found him wandering around outside her bedroom. It's a female instinct thing.

But last weekend, Mum went away for the weekend - one of those 'get-away-from-it-all' breaks with the girls from our village - leaving me to cope on my own.

Just like last time, there were notes pinned all around the house, telling me where to find this and that, and an envelope taped to the door, containing the school dinner money for Monday morning.

Sure enough, on my first night in command, I heard Max shouting from his bedroom: "Need a wee, need a wee."

Realising in an instant that it would be down to me to change his bed - yes, me - I was up like lightning, lifted him from the bed and ran to the toilet with him in my arms.

There was no time to switch any lights on as I pulled his pyjama trousers down and placed him on the toilet, saying "Go wee for Daddy".

Unfortunately, there's a built-in design fault with boys. How can I put this delicately? The trajectory of their aim can differ depending on whether their "little soldier" is at ease or standing to attention. On the night in question, Max's little soldier was somewhere between the two - not quite on full alert but certainly ready for sentry duty. On my third whispered "Go wee for Daddy" I took a direct hit in the chest with a faint splash on my left ear lobe.

I didn't have to change his pyjamas or his sheets that night. But the Mission Impossible T-shirt I like to wear for bed was well and truly soaked.

Guess what my beloved wife said when I told her? "You should have sat him further back on the toilet seat."

Women know nothing about male functions do they? It's all a question of degrees.

"It wouldn't have mattered how far back he was sitting - it was still pointing upwards. If I'd sat him further back it might have caught me full in the face or - worse - hit the light fitting and caused a short-circuit the next time it was switched on," I explained.

Anyway, she's back now. "At ease!"


WHEN she was teaching, June Thomas, of Wolviston, noticed a three-year-old girl called Sheila pulling at her tooth.

"What on earth are you doing?" asked June. "If I can get it out, I'll get 50 pence from the tooth fairy for the jumble sale," Sheila swiftly replied.

* The new Dad At Large book - on sale at Ottakars in Darlington and Northern Echo offices - makes a great Christmas stocking filler. It costs £5 with £1 for every copy sold going to the Butterwick Children's Hospice.