Mom, You're Doing Bedtime Wrong

by Kate Meier

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, Mom. You might think I’m hiding under the table to make a dirty diaper, but really, I’m trying to wrap my mind around the hour-long shit show that you call our “nighttime routine.” It all boils down to this: You’re doing bedtime wrong. All of it.

Mistake 1: The bath.

Mom, you are a ridiculous person. Why do you put me in water with a bunch of awesome toys and expect this to calm me down? Dude, it’s like having a pool inside my house, but with bubbles. BUBBLES! I’m 2. My vision of heaven is little more than water, bubbles, toys and my mom. Bath time has all of those. Oh, and you expect me not to splash? Who are you kidding? This bathroom is going to be destroyed by the time I’m done. I’m going to climb out of the tub and run my naked ass all over the place until you manage to wrangle me into some PJs (NOT the ones with the feet or I will FLIP THE EFF OUT).

Mistake 2: The bedtime story.

Yeah, like a story about a prince and princess fighting bad guys and flying on magic carpets and hanging out with a tiger is really going to knock me out. These books have so much action that despite their two-dimensional-ness, I feel like I’m there. Yes, I hear you hushing me, but I’m trying to point out the parts of the story I know. Quit stifling my developing brain and start doing the voices.

Mistake 3: The bedtime song.

First of all, your singing is garbage. I love you and everything, Mom, but you can’t carry a tune for shit. Secondly, you pick these terrible songs that are like, mid-’90s adult contemporary and make me want to cut off my own ears. Enough with the Vanessa Williams and the Phil Collins and the Mariah Carey sappy love songs. I have to wonder how, with that kind of taste in music, you got a man to marry you. Or have friends. Or feel good about yourself. At least Dad busts out a Pink Floyd now and again. Not like it matters, though, because neither of you are getting any closer to putting me to bed by forcing your off-key warbling on me.

Mistake 4: The rocking chair.

You think that if we sit in silence and rock back and forth that I’ll just nod off? Nope. Don’t get me wrong; I like hanging out with you, but I’m not really comfortable in the chair anymore. You keep wrapping that blanket around me despite the fact that I keep kicking it off. A word of advice: I’m no longer an infant. Stop trying to make the swaddle happen.

Mistake 5: Putting me in my bed.

By this point, I can sense your desperation, so I’ll let you put me in bed. Ha, you are going to try getting in here with me? I’m just going to repeatedly and “accidentally” kick you, probably in the face, until you want to cry. Then you try to leave. Oh, Mom. I almost feel bad as I watch you tiptoe into the hallway, taking care to close my door as slowly and quietly as possible. Here’s a tip: If I were actually asleep, you could slam that thing and it wouldn’t matter. You could bring a damn marching band in here and I’d still be on my back snoozing away. But I’m awake, which means you’re just putting on the most pathetic one-mommy show I have seen since that time you tried to convince me that pureed peas and green beans were “yummy in my tummy.”

Mistake 6: The water.

I don’t know how you haven’t figured out yet that I’m going to need a drink of water, and no, I don’t want the cup that you oh-so-cleverly put next to my bed. That cup sucks worse than your singing. You haven’t even washed that cup in a week. You just keep putting it by my pillow while whispering some BS like, “Here’s your water in case you get thirsty, sweetheart.” Fool, I’m definitely gonna get thirsty and I want the pink cup with the straw from downstairs!

Mistake 7: You just keep trying.

The biggest mistake you make is that you keep trying. You introduce the DUMBEST new things to our little routine, like rubbing lavender oil on my back, or using a sound machine, or giving me something you call candy but I know is melatonin. Just stop trying. Please. You’re only getting more and more frustrated. Just accept the fact that I run bedtime, not you. I’ll get up in the middle of the night and go back to sleep on my watch, not yours. The sooner you realize this, the better off we’ll be. Now, go get me a midnight snack. And get one for yourself, too. We’re going to be awake for a while.