How is is possible that you can spend
four solid hours telling me that you're bored, and then as soon as dinner's over suddenly have enough creative ideas to
keep you entertained into the next century? Why are you mortal enemies with your siblings while I'm making dinner, and best friends ready to play together nicely for hours right at bedtime? Can you really not think of
anything to do during daylight hours, only for inspiration to magically strike at
nightfall, or is it all just a very elaborate stall tactic?
Your Frenzied Mother
I have said it before and I'll say it again. Putting kids to bed stinks! Gone are the days of holding them close in the rocking chair and singing a few bedtime songs while you inhale their intoxicating baby scent and revel in their chubbiness. No more placing them in their crib and sneaking away, completing the bedtime ritual no later than 7:15 pm every night, leaving the evening open to all sorts of possibilities.
Since we have three separate rounds of bedtime these days, it's easy to see the stark contrast between them. I still do exactly the above with baby Caboose and it is absolutely wonderful. Then begins my least favorite part of every day, the two-hour ritual that sees me begging, pleading, cajoling and bribing my other four kids into bed only to leave me with a house in desperate need of tidying at the precise time I should be getting ready for bed myself. Not to mention the fact that the bedtime process has robbed me of any and all personal time I might have expected to get for the day.
The following Veggie Tales clip faithfully embodies the bedtime ritual in our house and makes me laugh every single time because it is SO TRUE! This is exactly what it's like putting Plucky and Bright to bed. Just keep in mind that this video doesn't display what happens before Junior is actually in his PJ's, with his teeth brushed, and sitting in his bed, so it could really use a prequel to capture the full scope of the nightmare.
Junior Asparagus' Goodnight Song
In addition to the very same devices Junior employs to get out of going to bed, here are some of my kids' favorite tactics (and some very random ones they only used once in desperation):
I forgot to pack my lunch, practice the piano, do my homework, etc.
I didn't finish my dinner!
Mom, we need music to sleep
I'm hungry--can I have a snack?
It's too dark
Sometimes I feel like you don't love me at all (said just prior to tragically bursting into tears)
I'm too hot/cold
Mom, I need a pair of scissors just in case I see a spider web that needs to be cut (yes, that was Plucky)
I have to go to the bathroom
My (tummy, throat, head, foot--take your pick) hurts
An apple is not a big enough snack for my lunchbox tomorrow
Daddy hasn't told us a story all week
Can I sing you a song I made up?
It's not bedtime yet--we went to bed later last (night, week, century)
That list mostly applies to Plucky and Bright, but Mellow and Energy did the same things when they were younger. Once the girls are in bed, it's time to see to the boys. They're older, so they get to stay up later, but they still expect some personal attention before they go to bed. (Which I do like to give them since it's exceedingly difficult to get my undivided attention during the day when everyone is vying for it). But it definitely takes time.
Additionally, we must have crossed some invisible line a while back that I didn't intend to cross. My boys now expect back and hand massages each night, in addition to listening to them talk about their days and singing them several songs while my precious evening hours are wasting away.
The word precious can be tricky, though. Is my precious time better spent reading a good book or listening to my children tell me about their days? For some reason, the older they get, the more endearing I find their bedtime talking. Perhaps I'm finally catching on to the idea that my time with them is running short. Energy will be twelve soon, which means I only have six years left with him in our home.
It's time to see the beauty in the bedtime shenanigans. And if not beauty, at least I should be able to laugh at them rather than getting angry. Thanks for the reminder, Veggie Tales!