Oh bedtime. At 8 o’clock every night, I get a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart. Soon my little angel-pies will be dreaming about sugar plums or gum drops or bunnies. I really don’t care what they dream about as long as they are asleep. But going to sleep is not so easy for them. I have no idea why. I’m happy to go to bed. I can fall asleep in five seconds. I can fall asleep while I’m crawling into bed. For children, bedtime represents fascism and they are the resistance.
You know how a humorous scene might be speeded up in an old movie to make it even funnier? I bet bedtime at our house would be hilarious if speeded up.
We try to give the big one fair warning that bedtime is looming. “Ten minutes until we get ready for bed!” I’ll say in a sing-songy voice. Child pretends to be deaf. When bedtime rolls around lately he acts like he had no idea it was coming. Some nights he goes down with no problem but he’s sick. Sick children are the super resistance, the special forces that are battling bedtime with every ounce of energy they have. And mine specializes in screaming. I have heard that all toddlers scream maniacally for no reason all the time but I try really hard not to surround myself with toddlers. Once, I had to fill in for a teacher in the toddler room at the daycare where I worked. There is no assignment more terrible than the toddler room. Navy Seals sit around praying they don’t get assigned to the toddler room.
Bedtime would be better if it just involved slinging children into bed and done. But no. Clothes changes, scrub downs, coconut oil application, diaper change, and diaper cream applications all apply here. I am an expert at changing the diaper of a bucking bronco. I can also change the clothes of a bucking bronco. You will need to wear a catcher’s uniform and a football helmet for safety reasons until you become proficient. Somewhere during this process, the parents will need to discuss the rash found on one child or the other. Ok. It has been decided that it is a rash due to laundry detergent as washing machine is basically broken. You can only use about one ml of soap for baby clothes. Someone is usually teething so teething tablets must also be administered. Everyone acts like this is the end of the world even though it will help!!!
Then you have to do the nightly roundup. Where is Huggie Bear? Huggie Bear is always hiding. Track down the tractor blanket. It is the only suitable blanket in a house that has roughly 999 blankets. We have fuzzy blankets, flannel blankets, blue blankets, pink blankets, big blankets, small blankets, short blankets, tall blankets. Some nights, we have to have a major negotiation around taking toys to bed. I have to explain to my son that mommy has an anxiety problem and that is why you can’t take Lightning McQueen to bed.
It is now 9:15 and you’ve finally managed to change clothes, change diaper, find Huggie, find tractor blanket and negotiate a peace treaty around cars. It is now time to read a book. We have one thousand “goodnight” books. But none of those are acceptable. Child always chooses a book in which we must identify construction and farm equipment. “That is a front-loader,” I say with fake enthusiasm. “Here is a combine harvester. Oh look, a skid steer loader!” I managed to live nearly 30 years before I ever had to discover what a skid steer loader was. I now have a Ph.D. in heavy equipment. Goodnight bulldozer.
9:45 and the kissing goodnight starts. 9:50 and the child is in the bed. He seems to go down peacefully. The baby nurses for 45 minutes and goes to sleep. 10:30 and all is well.
11:00 pm. Toddler starts whining. Not full-on crying but whining. Parents stand in huddle at the bottom of the stairs whispering about what action should be taken. Subtly suggest that the other should take said action. There is slight resentment from parent who lost the draw. This is a good time to have an iPhone because you will be sitting next to toddler for the next half hour trying to not fall asleep and spend the night in the rocking chair next to his bed. Right arm goes to sleep multiple times while patting toddler’s butt as this is only acceptable thing to do. He will not tolerate any gentle back rubs or pats, has to be the butt. Pat. Pat. Pat. Pat. Finally, toddler goes to sleep. He’ll be back up, he’s sick remember.
As you tiptoe from his bedroom to yours, you hear the resounding cry of the hungry baby monster. It is a race against time to get to hungry baby before she wakes up toddler. Some nights, you won’t make it. All parents will be involved when this happens, including the one that gets up at 5:30 for work. All parents are grouchy and exhausted and they just want to read WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE while in a horizontal position. Nurse baby. She refuses to associate with the right side and will only nurse from the left. You will sit and nurse for 30 minutes or better while checking Facebook again to see who has posted something you find offensive so you can stew about it. “No one is trying to take Christ out of Christmas,” you might fume. “Christ never left Christmas! It’s right there in the word! Everywhere I go, I am inundated with Christmas….” etc. You might also lament how tired you will be tomorrow. At least Kathie Lee and Hoda will be there to get you through it. Thanks ladies. I wish I could sit and drink with you every morning but alas, I will be pounding coffee instead of wine.
Hungry baby monster settles back into her bed which is five inches from your bed. This epic distance will become unacceptable at around 4 am. It is midnight. You close your eyes and at the moment you fall asleep, the children are alerted via telepathy and wake up. You slept for 3 ½ minutes. Back to toddler who has misplaced his pacifier and is heartbroken. Pacifier is found. Pat. Pat. Pat. Pat. Over time, you will discover that you have a neck injury similar to whiplash from falling asleep and jerking awake while sitting up.
If you are lucky, toddler will stay asleep and baby will stay asleep. Lots of times, baby will wake up and decide she is only happy in the big bed. Switch from comfortable pillow to flat pillow and snuggle in. Enjoy sleeping from 1-4. At four, everyone is back up. After nursing for 30 minutes, attempt to return baby to her bed which is located five inches from your face. That is too far. Fail. Everyone is back in bed. 4:30-pacifier retrieval mission. 5:30, husband gets up for work. 7:00 am rolls around and I hear “CAR! Towmamer (Tow-mater), Akeen (McQueen), tractor, Pooh, Mommy, MAMA!”
Now, don’t we all feel super rested? I just can’t wait to do the whole thing again tonight!