When the bedtime ritual gets out of hand

The one great thing about humans? We can get used to almost anything.

The one terrible thing about humans? We can get used to almost anything.

And nowhere does this become more evident than when you become a parent. Even the most absurd daily rituals become normalized if you do them enough times. Which is how you find yourself doing things like spending 45 minutes making toast until it is “the right color.”

It’s also how I came to dread night-night time.

I’m not even sure how he did it. I suspect it’s because my toddler is secretly a wizard (which would also explain how he always manages to convince me he needs both his dessert and mine).

It started out so simple. Butt. Bottle. Burp.

Boom.

Done.

Set the kid down and Army crawl out of the nursery before he catches you trying to escape. Then bust out the grown-up juice and “Game of Thrones.”

The best part of all was that my husband usually did the entire production himself since I answered the 4 a.m. “screeching murdered eagle” wake-up call.

But then my baby got older. And it started evolving into a two-person job. Book. Butt. Jammies. Sippy Cup. A verse of “You Are My Sunshine” followed by three more verses because it’s impossible to resist the combo of big, brown eyes boring into your soul and the phrase “More pease, Momma?”

However, it didn’t evolve into the behemoth it is today until we did the traumatic switchover to the (cue dramatic music) TODDLER BED.*

And now? Well, now the whole production starts an entire hour before actual “night-night.”

First is the milk. And I’m not being cute when I say he really milks this part. The clever little imp finally figured out he won’t go night-night until it’s all gone. So he drinks it slower than I had previously thought was humanly possible.

Then comes story-time, which is continually interrupted by an intense negotiation of just how many books are acceptable. I say three. He says 9,037. Every single night he somehow manages to make me feel like I’m impeding his mental and emotional growth by denying him the power of the written word. Like I’m some nefarious medieval lord plotting to make sure my serfs never discover someone invented the printing press.

Then comes the clean-up. Considering he spent the whole day putting the entire contents of our house into the living room, this is by far the most labor intensive part of the ritual. And yes, I am that mean Mommy who makes her 2-year-old clean up his messes. If he can dump 4.5 tons of itty bitty cars on my floor, he can pick them all back up. Hell, I’d make my 2-month-old do it too but that lazy bum is still claiming workman’s comp due to “inability to hold her head up.”

That’s the youth of America for you.

Of course, my husband and I help him. If we didn’t, he’d still be cleaning up the Great Puzzle Piece Dumping Bonanza from July.

Then comes the whole putting his entire collection of 832 stuffed animals onto his tiny bed followed by digging through this ridiculous pile to find Mr. Doody, who was sucked to the bottom of the heap like Jon Snow at the Battle of the Bastards.

There’s the brushing of the teeth, which used to take 90 seconds but now takes 9 minutes because he has to do it himself.

There’s the last diaper change (usually preceded by a half-hearted attempt at “going potty,” which is really just him sitting on a tiny musical plastic toilet while we bribe him with M&M’s and while he wills his body to explode before ever surrendering and actually releasing any pee-pee or poopy).

Then comes “Ribbet,” a game my husband invented, where they pretend to be frogs jumping super high and I pretend not to lose my mind because JUST GO TO FREAKING SLEEP ALREADY.

We then must pull down all the blinds and turn on the fan. DON’T YOU DARE FORGET. May God have mercy on your soul if you forget.

Then come the lullabies. Plural. It started with the aforementioned “You Are My Sunshine.” Now the set list also includes several rounds of “Where Is Thumbkin?” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and usually a request for the moon song, followed by this argument:

TODDLER: Moon song?

ME: I don’t know the moon song, baby.

TODDLER: Please, Momma. Moon song?

ME: I’d sing it if I knew what song you were talking about, sweets.

TODDLER: MOON SONG! MOON SOOOOOOOOONG!

ME: *sings* “I see a bad moon rising…”

TODDLER: No, not that one.

ME: Son of a …

Then comes the “oh crap, we forgot Beep-Beep and Woobie.” Followed by the search for Beep-Beep and Woobie. Followed by a giant swig from the flask I’ve taken to hiding in my nursing bra.

And finally, AT LAST, is hugs and kisses, a last desperate request to watch “just one more ‘Little Einsteins’?” which is swiftly denied and then lights out.

Of course, there is always a little bit of crying at this point, but in general I stop sobbing fairly quickly and am free to spend the rest of my evening joyfully passed out in exhaustion in the doorway to my own bedroom.

*A story for another time

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