At the end of the day, my kids happily trot to bed, hair wet from a bath they didn’t have to be forced into or out of. I lean over and whisper, “I love you. Thank you for being so perfect. Have sweet dreams during your 12 hour sleep cycle.” Each of my kids looks up and says, “I’m totally NOT going to ask you for a glass of water right now. Night-night.”
Kidding. I’m totally kidding. None of that ever happens.
Bedtime is my least favorite time of day. The bedtime ritual is basically the universe telling all parents to screw off: I have an idea. Let’s make sure we force parents to end every day with a series of actions that pushes them right to the edge. Every night in my house is a succession of scenes from some sort of sadistic Groundhog Day.
First, there’s the mention of bed. Both kids’ eyes shoot me a look of shock and horror. They act as if the idea that they have to head to bed is a completely new one. They can’t believe I’m even suggesting it.
BED? NOOOO! I DON’T WANT TO GO TO BED. BED?
Next comes the pajama ritual, which is the most exhausting part of a parent’s day — is it not? Why can’t kids jut put their fucking pajamas on? Why do they have to start flailing their legs and forcing you to break a sweat? Why are we breaking a sweat putting our kid’s clothes on? Jesus, take the wheel.
You finally get your kid’s pajamas on (miracle of miracles) and now it’s time to brush their teeth. There are two types of kids when it comes to brushing: the one who wants to brush his teeth for 15 minutes and the one who doesn’t want to do it at all. There’s no happy medium. And if you have two, they will inevitably play toothbrush sword-fighting and one of them will leave the bathroom pissed.
It’s finally time to get into the bedroom and pick a story (if you have more than one child they will never agree on one, but this is something you ignore for your own sanity). Your kid wants the book you haven’t seen in weeks. You have a visual image of it in your mind, but you have no idea where the hell it is. You choose another book, while your kid asks for the one he really wants to hear throughout your entire recital. Until you’re done reading, when he magically decides he loves the story he hasn’t been listening to and wants to hear it AGAIN MOMMY!
Now comes the exit from the bedroom, which is stealth and quiet — until you inevitably trip over a toy on your way out. There is no way to get into or out of a kid’s room without tripping on a toy. It’s not possible. And at night, you can be sure the toy you trip on has a loud, long musical component.
If you’ve ever wondered why parents need a drink at the end of the day, look no further: it’s the bedtime ritual. The universe’s way of reminding you not to get too confident about this whole parenting thing.