Sunday, April 5, 2015

A Cozy Little Bedtime Story

The girls are all suffering a tiny bit from springtime allergies, and I do mean a tiny bit. But enough for me to give each of them a Benadryl, because in reality, all parents look for any opportunity to give their kids a Benadryl. It just makes life easier if they are asleep for a good portion of the day. And since it's almost bedtime, I thought it was definitely a good move considering the total nightmare that is bedtime.


It happens once every 24 hours, literally like clockwork.

It has the potential to be such a cozy, endearing time. One where prayers are said, stories are read, songs are sung, and freshly bathed children are tucked snugly into their beds with much love and many kisses, drifting easily off into a dreamland filled with candy and never ending screen time.

I think it was kind of like that one time around year four of Life With Kids. 

Pretty much the rest of the time it's more like tonight. I went upstairs to see what was going on and these are the pics I snapped.

They were told to get in pjs and not come down; we were coming up. Here she is, ready to come down.

And here she is, running away like she wasn't poised to disobey.

This will not get your teeth clean.

Neither will this.

Catching the toothpaste she was letting dribble out to try to get her sisters to laugh.

And now making wise choices by blowing bubbles in the house instead of getting into bed.

We generally give a little heads up before bedtime, maybe five minutes or so, just so they know it will be in fact rolling around again tonight, and they will be expected to climb into their beds and sleep. They generally do not acknowledge this announcement, preferring to try to ignore it until it goes away. Like the Jehovah's Witnesses at your door on Saturday mornings.  

A few minutes later, the bedtime announcement is made.

"WHAT? Why do we have to go to bed? I'm not tired! I've never even been tired! What is this tired you speak of?"

I remind them of how they all cried when I woke them up and so they must get in bed on time so we don't repeat that morning disaster. (As if. It is repeated every morning no matter what.)

They are herded upstairs and admonished to do their bathroom stuff and get into pajamas. This generally requires laughing, screaming, pounding of feet, and then ultimately crying when one girl gets pinned up against the wall by her sister who says, "You are going to pay for that!" (who knows what "that" is) and when the Pinned Girl nervously says, "Are you kidding?" the Pinner responds, "Wouldn't you like to know? Ha ha ha ha ha!" Pinned Girl breaks free and comes downstairs to tell, but neither parent can be compelled to care. Neglected Girl returns upstairs, where giggling once again takes over. 

The father of these people heads up to regain some control and enforces complete silence until everyone has on their pajamas. This is the worst punishment imaginable in this house, and therefore speeds up the pajama process considerably. 

Everyone gathers on the bean bags for devotions, and since at the end of devotions comes the time to crawl into beds, their attention and appreciation for the Bible becomes more intense than any of the apostles' ever was, and they will request two, nay, even unto three Bible stories so they can be "more worshipfuller." While this would fool a novice parent into thinking they are raising the next three great theologians of our time and perhaps lead them to read even five or six stories, we are experts and know they are simply avoiding their snuggly, cozy, soft, awful beds.   

Next is prayers, during which each child offers supplications. One time a child prayed for every person she had ever met by name. A child once asked if we would stop her if she felt led by God to pray for longer than 45 minutes. Again, this could lead newbies into thinking their children were really communing with Our Lord, but we didn't just fall off the turnip truck. Or the cabbage wagon. Or whatever people fall off of who are naive.

After prayers they are allowed to read silently until a set time. "Silently" sounds like a really simple concept, but it's actually very tricky. If they are sneaking a piece of last year's Halloween candy, their stealthiness cannot be matched. But in order to read silently they have to read at the perfect decibel level that will annoy their sisters but not be heard by the parents across the hall so that when the annoyed sister tells, the "silent" reader can deny it all. 

One of us then goes in to turn lights out and take books from beds because one girl will use her magic eyes that can see words in the pitch black but not see dirty socks lying in the middle of the kitchen to read in the dark under her quilt if the book is not removed from her bed.

Then a crazy phenomenon happens, one I can't figure out. Turning out the lights triggers the thirst mechanism in children. I find this is universal and not unique to our children. Even though they have had lots of time to get a drink, they will suddenly realize they are in fact dying of thirst the exact nanosecond the light switch flips to off. Then the situation gets dangerous because if they are not delivered a drink STAT they will perish. Telling them they are not thirsty is futile. They. Are. Withering. Away. But they are hydrated enough to produce tears.

Next is "checking everything." One of our children requires that everything, including their hope chests, the closet, and the trundle bed, be checked for strangers who might have snuck in. This really has to be done by Daddy, so if he happens to be gone, as he often is during a sport season, she does not trust that I actually checked everything. She claims she won't be able to sleep until he gets home so she might as well join me on the couch.

That child gets delivered back to bed, and I check on the other two. One child has passed out. We can't ever find her because of the ridiculous number of stuffed animals in her bed, but she always comes out in the morning, so I assume she's in there during the night. She falls asleep fast so she's my favorite.

The other child will suddenly remember everything that happened at school for the entire year and want to tell me all about it. This child is hard to get details out of, so when she wants to talk I always want to drop everything and hear her. She has figured this out, and it is a totally manipulative tactic to want to talk only at bedtime. One that works.

I will finally leave and then the giggling and chit chatting between the remaining two conscious children commences. I am a sucker for this because I didn't have a sister to chit chat with and love that they have each other. Preston is less enamored by this and usually only lets it go on a maximum of one minute before he threatens things like "no Christmas ever" and "beets at every meal."

The final stage before sleep is, "I am sick," but we have started to tell them they can only say that while they are throwing up, if a bone is sticking out through the skin, or if they are bleeding from a major artery

Then they sleep. 

And the battle is won. But the war will be fought every night from 7pm - 8pm. Until they move out, I guess. And move out they will, because this ain't no Hundred Year War we are fighting here. Everybody got to get out someday. And hopefully go fight their own Bedtime War.

Grace and Good Sleep,


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