Some parents love bedtime: “It’s such a cozy, quiet time of day,” they gush. “We read stories and sing songs and snuggle.” Sounds nice, but that description doesn’t really capture what bedtime is like in our house. Right at the point where I’m finally craving some alone time, the kids—egged on by Mr. December—engage in all kinds of shenanigans.
As I type this, N is talking endlessly about his new Pokémon cards. It’s an assault on my ears and brain and I can’t focus on writing my blog post. “STOP TALKING AND GO TO SLEEP!” I call up the stairs.
Oh, look: here comes Mr. December, staggering out of the kids’ rooms with his shirt untucked and his hair disheveled. He looks pitiful, but I have zero pity for him.
Five minutes ago I got a FaceTime call from him. When I answered, R’s face filled the screen for a moment… and then suddenly morphed into a cow face, an octopus, and back to a cow. She giggled uncontrollably but said nothing intelligible. Then I saw another call come in, this time from R’s phone.
“Please stop,” I said, tapping decline on the new call.
She didn’t stop. She rang again. I declined. She rang, I declined. Ring. Decline. Ring. Decline. Ring. Decline. Ri—slide to power off. I hung up on her. The entire time Mr. December could be heard in the background, alternately laughing and protesting while the kids jumped all over him.
This is what passes for bedtime in our house. I hate it—which is why I generally opt out. My rules for bedtime are as follows:
- I don’t tuck you in unless you’ve changed into clean clothes (or pyjamas) and brushed your teeth properly.
- I’m happy to hug and snuggle, but do NOT try to grab at me when I finally tell you it’s time to sleep. Grabbing hurts.
- You get one tuck in. That’s it, just one. I am not going to tuck you in repeatedly if you keep popping out of bed.
In contrast, Mr. December’s rules of bedtime seem to be:
- Have lots of rowdy fun so that the kids get worn out and exhausted.
- Someone must pretend to be at least three different kinds of barnyard animal.
- If the kids aren’t laughing hysterically, he’s doing it wrong
I used to resent having to be the Bad Cop who stomps into the room and orders everyone to sleep right now… I mean it… DON’T MAKE ME COME IN THERE. But now I just resent the fact that bedtime takes forty minutes, leaving me with very little grownup time at the end of the day. Believe it or not, I do need time to decompress after a full day of parenting.
“Is it really 9:40?” Mr. December asked twenty minutes ago. “That bedtime took way too long!”
“NO KIDDING!” I tried to deadpan. It came out more like a yell than anything else, though.
“You seem upset,” he said mildly as he jogged down the stairs to his office.
I hate bedtime.