Tag Archives: night night time

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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With liberty & naps for all

There are a lot of things wasted on the young. Youth. Beauty. A ridiculously high metabolism. Expensive toys when junk mail and an empty shampoo bottle are apparently just as exotic and entertaining.

But perhaps worst of all are naps. Naps are so completely wasted on the young. Yet we hand them out to children like beads on Mardi Gras. Yes, we, the parents, who haven’t had a chance to nap since 2009, give unlimited sleeping time to any two-bit juvenile who can fake a halfway decent yawn.

Actually, no. Forget the young. You know what it is? It’s a bigger issue. A much bigger issue. Because in our society, naps are wasted on the undeserving.

You know who needs naps? High school kids. These awkward creatures have jam-packed schedules, piles of homework and a tsunami wave of hormones assaulting them at all times. Not to mention, they have a daily routine that is the complete opposite of what their biological clock is telling them. I’m old but not so old that I don’t remember what it was like. I routinely didn’t fall asleep until 2 a.m. when I was 17. And yet, I had to be up at 6 a.m. to get ready for school (because eyes don’t aggressively slather black eyeliner on themselves). And yet these teenagers get yelled at for finally succumbing to the siren call of sleep just because it happens to be in the middle of chemistry class. Or, worse yet, woken up early on weekend mornings because it’s apparently illegal when you’re a parent to let your child “sleep all day on such a beautiful day.”

You know who else needs naps? The middle-age-ish sect that are busy taking care of both their offspring and their aging parents. Because you know who the two most ungrateful species in the world are? Aging parents and children over the age of 12.

And let’s not forget pregnant ladies. They need naps most of all. And I’m not just saying that because I happen to be knocked up right now. They really do. One, because creating life cell-by-cell is wicked stupid hard, and two, everyone will be much safer if I can JUST CLOSE MY EYES FOR 10 FREAKING MINUTES, OK!?!

But NO. No. Who do we give naps to? Babies. Babies who have their entire lives ahead of them to nap. They literally are experiencing the world for the first time and what do they do with this wonderful new discovery? Sleep through everything.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have old people. Old people who could die at any moment. And what do they do with the precious time they have left? They nap. And I mean, hardcore nap, like napping is an audition for death and they’re trying to get it perfect. And yeah, sure, you could argue that they’ve earned all these naps after a lifetime of working and raising their family but I can guarantee that when they really needed all these naps was when they were working and raising their family.

And then there’s these guys. Children. With the energy they give off 20 minutes after eating a candy bar, young children could fuel most European cities for a year. Yet, we INSIST they take a nap. And then they have the nerve to FIGHT it. Tooth and nail. In front of their exhausted parents who haven’t seen the inside of their own eyelids in over 19 hours and it’s only noon.

But perhaps most twisted of all, we give unlimited napping privileges to cats and dogs, the only family members who don’t contribute anything to the household (and please, no cheesy comments like “oh, but animals contribute so much love to your home”…of course pets love you but what I need right now is for my loving dog, Buffy, to get off his lazy ass and make dinner for everyone). No job. No responsibilities. Food and water just magically appear. Yeah, no, I can totally see why they need to sleep 22 hours a day.

Well, I say it’s time we finally take a stand and end this madness. We should march on Washington! No more naps for the undeserving! Naps for all or naps for none! Attica! Attica!

Or, I don’t know, something like that. I’ll put it on my to-do list. Right now I have to put my toddler down for night-night.

Sigh.