Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Kids and Their Crazy Bedtime Rituals

It's the time of day that most of us parents greet triumphantly: the kids' bedtime. Brett and I are no exception.

With four kids there are two bedtimes. The twins usually hit the sack at about 7:45 and Blake and Nick stay up an extra hour.

Blake and Nick, for the most part, pass the normal test when it comes to bedtime routine ... well there's Nick's sleepwalking, but we'll let that slide since it hasn't happened in a couple weeks. For them it's brush teeth, go to the bathroom, Blake will read in bed with his booklight, and then off to catch some Z's.

Zach and Allie, on the other hand, are in a crazy, let's-make-Mom-and-Dad-run-circles-around- us world of their own. Sometimes I wonder if there's a camera hidden in the room a la Candid Camera.

So this is the world we've been living in when bedtime comes around ... They go potty. Normal enough. Then it's storytime. But wait, it has to be done Zach-and-Allie-style. For starters, they can never agree on one book, so they each pick one. Allie wants all the lights turned out and her book read by the light of Blake's awesome booklight. But that's not all ... Mom or Dad or whoever's reading the story can't just clip the light on the book. Allie MUST hold the light, leading to frustration for the reader when that darn little light doesn't stay shining on the words (it's just 10 more minutes, we tell ourselves, then the rest of the evening is OURS).

Zach then wants his story read the old-fashioned way -- sitting on his bed with the lights on. That's my boy! He loves "Goodnight, Gorilla."

So then it's hugs and kisses, a drink of water, and ice packs. Yes, ice packs. I think the seeds of this were planted a couple months ago when Zach had an "owie" at bedtime. He had asked for an ice pack. Somehow that stuck because night after night he would ask for it. Then as any dutiful sibling would, Allie started asking for one, too.

So when it's bedtime, we gather up the books, the booklight, the cup of water and the ice packs (and I have to give Brett most of the credit for this because he does most of it).

Then they're all tucked in for the night. Or are they?

These two 4-year-olds are brilliant strategists. They know they have us. They know they're now big kids wearing underwear to bed. They know we don't want to get up in the middle of the night to change wet sheets and pajamas. They know we'll do whatever we can to prevent a nighttime accident. They know they can prolong it for a few more minutes.

So this is what we hear about 5 minutes after leaving their room as we dare to envision relaxing for a couple hours before our own bedtime:

"Mommy, I have to go potty again." And, of course, a little shadow is following. "Me, too."

Calgon, take me
away ...

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