Bedtime is really a special time for parents; arguably the most cherished time of the day. To be clear, I don’t mean that in the cuddling, cozy sense. But in the Go The Fuck To Sleep sense
I love my children more than I thought I could ever love anything; especially something that I want to smother at the end of the day. Sometimes a parent’s love is best savored after the child is asleep, in peace and quiet over a beer or a glass of wine. Or a cookie that no one is going to ask me for a bite of. Seriously, my kids can hear the crunch of food in my mouth from 100 yards away. It’s the world’s most useless super power.
But what really gets me about bedtime isn’t the bedtime stories. My kids are on a merciful one-story regimen with that. It’s the whole routine leading up to the bedtime story that is killing me. It’s not a routine in the sense of an unvarying, repeatable formula but more a routine in the Olympic gymnastics sense; a series of ridiculous contortions that get increasingly more complex, often set to very bad music.
We kick it off with the what should be the simple task of getting them upstairs. This is immediately complicated by my daughter, the 2-year-old, who first has to collect all her stuff. Yeah, this is still going on.
Little Miss OCD essentially travels around the house with a posse of 17 “baby dolls”, as she calls them. Which isn’t even technically accurate. Because a sock monkey isn’t a, “baby doll” nor is a stuffed dog wearing a sweater vest. But I’m not going to argue doll classification systems with her.
I dare you to.
And she insists all 17 “baby dolls” be positioned sitting around her crib facing her. Laying her down to sleep feels like setting up a Pixar remake of Rosemary’s baby or something.
Anyway, when we finally get both kids upstairs we then have to complete the toddler triathlon of brushing teeth, bathing and putting on pajamas.
This stuff is rough because 2 and 3-year-olds want to do everything themselves but, quite frankly, they can’t. Have you met a 2 or 3-year-old? They’re invalids. But telling your 2-year-old she can’t brush her own teeth goes over about as well as telling your 90-year-old grandfather with cataracts he probably should no longer drive even though he drove a tank in WWII. So at bedtime everything is getting done twice. Their way and then the proper way.
Which is not to say I’m like fancy or particular in the way I need these things done. The bar is pretty low. But, for example, my son will come hopping in the room, so proud of himself, “Daddy, I got my PJs on.” But did you notice…he’s *hopping*? Red flag. Why? because BOTH legs are through the left leg of the pajamas. A for effort. F for actually being helpful.
I don’t even have the energy to get into what baths are like.
I know I should be savoring these moments more and it’s mostly about adjusting my attitude. Once I was outside with my son before bedtime on a warm night and I saw our neighbor out with his daughter who was around the same age. He yells over, “How’s it going?” “Good,” I say, “Just killing time before bedtime. You?” And he just kind of looks at me and says, “just outside playing with my kid.”
Right. I meant that, too. You smug asshole.