I’m a grumbler about bedtime. One of my favorite things about having a babysitter is that I don’t have to put my kids to bed. I’m not talking about outsourcing it every night… well, maybe there are weeks I’d like to, but when someone else does it (and I’m not around) it is a special treat.
How does it go at your house? Here it is a tactical showdown of who can exert their will most effectively to drive the outcome they desire. Parents want to get everything done as efficiently as possible in anticipation of our own eventual drifting to dreamland. Kids want to use every technique known to man to delay the inevitable drifting to dreamland. I’ve often thought that it might be best (aka the path of least resistance), if I just let the children put me to bed and then fend for themselves.
The sad thing is we don’t exactly have a harrowing bedtime routine. My kids rarely get bathed. It’s one of my dirty little secrets (not so much anymore since it’s on the internet now.) Once a week is about right for all of us as it relates to children’s baths. I’m not exactly a stickler about tooth brushing at night. If it gets late, sometimes it just isn’t worth it. Bigs even told the dentist that. Clearly we haven’t sufficiently taught him about lying to the dentist, which is customary… especially about flossing.
The real staples of bedtime at our house are stories and snuggles. I like both, but I’m not sure I love them, because they are cheapened by manipulation to get time on one’s side. I love books and reading, but am constantly culling the kids’ collection for those that are so insipid it is torture to have to read them. Unless of course they are the Disney princess eight-page dollar store board book, which takes 32 seconds to read. Then I can appreciate pedestrian.
Snuggles turn from a delay to an all out assault on allowing oneself to drift off. Bigs and Littles both talk incessantly in an effort to stay awake. This trait is genetic. My husband does the same thing. The other night he was talking to me in a semi-coherent state. He shared that he had the beef burrito for dinner, because the tacos were too far of a drive. Perhaps it was really the beans talking out of his ass…
Last night as Littles thrashed to stay awake. She sang “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Once she lost track of where she was in the song and her long eyelashes flicked open and close in an effort to will them to stay open, she said, “Mommy, how was your day at work?” I told her it was a good day, which was completely untrue, but I went back and amended my statement and said, “I had a bit of tough day at work today.” Without missing a beat she drowsily said, “Why do you go to work then?”
At least a hundred angles exist for answering this specific question. At varying points in time, they are all true. When it all gets boiled down the answer was this, “I think it is the right thing to do for our family. I go to work because I love you, and Daddy, and Bigs.” Hoping this would sufficiently tide her over, I drew in a deep breath and let it out.
She responded, “I love myself.”
It made no sense at all and all the sense in the world at the very same time. Eyelids heavy, I wondered if she had any idea what she just said. I hope she spends the rest of her life with that phrase written on her heart. I hope she spend the next 36,525 nights drifting to sleep reminded that she loves herself. I expect to spend the next 23,376 nights drifting to sleep mentally noting what I did to model for her that I love myself too. You know, since I can’t bottle that sentiment up and save it for every day that she needs it in the future.