Can I get an "Amen" from the corner if I tell you a secret? I hate bedtime. Bedtime is that precious time when a totally exhausted parent, worn out from the day, does his or her (possibly their, if you're really lucky) level best to convince one or more rowdy, spun-up, wide-awake children to stay in their beds and go to sleep, for the health and sanity of all concerned.
Doesn't that seem just a little backwards, somehow?
Parenting books will tell you that this is the time when your children are most likely to confide in you all their cares and concerns, that some magical blend of drowsiness and soft pillows pulls out of them their dreams and secrets like no other time of day. "Under no circumstances" these books will intone, "should the parent neglect this wonderful opportunity to connect with the child's heart over bedtime prayers."
Back in the real world, let me tell you how MY evening went. It was pretty typical. Around 7:30 I put all three monkeys in the tub. I closed the curtain because they were splashing water on the floor. Confident that the noise level couldn't be maintained (it had to either increase or drop off) if anyone was drowning, I neglected a cardinal parenting rule and nipped into the kitchen for five minutes of adult conversation in which no one was hanging off me or interrupting. My brother had appropriated my computer to watch clips of The Colbert Report on Hulu, so I was unsuccessful in my attempt at mature communication.
Around 8:00, all the monkeys dried off and brushed (teeth, hair, whatever), we began Round 1 of "Who is Sleeping Where?" In this game, Monkey1 and Monkey2 change their minds a MINIMUM of fourteen times EACH as to which bed they would prefer for the night ahead, while Monkey3 expresses his distaste for any bed at all.
Beds chosen, we moved into Negotiations about 8:30. That would be a half hour past the time when I aspire to have them all tucked, prayed over, and drifting quickly off to dreamland. Tonight I got through with no stories (too late) and only one snack. (Monkey2 had settled down in Grandpa and Bestemor's bed, so she didn't hear the successful negotiation for a snack on the part of Monkey1.) Meanwhile Monkey3 was nursed and told to stay in his room. (Not the bed, just the room. I was really willing to give a lot on this one.) Did he listen?
Are you kidding? So, I wound up holding Monkey3 in the bed because there was no other way to make him stay. And, I'm sorry, but I have a problem with my children just totally ignoring what they're told to do. Parents who are ok with that might want to stop reading at this point. So, I wrapped one arm around his middle and held him still, while Monkey1 flopped around the top bunk in silent protest on his brother's behalf. (Only silent because I told him to stop being rude, and if I heard another peep he would get a spanking.) I finally got Monkey3 to agree to lie still if I let go. He curled up with his head under my chin, and we both passed out. I have no idea what time it was.
There's nothing quite as sweet as a freshly washed, sleeping Monkey. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to bed. If someone catches me mumbling any deep confessions or aspirations as I drift off, let me know in the morning what they were.