It’s 8:20 pm. I listen closely outside the door of the boys’ room.
Drill Sergeant Mama arrived on the scene at my house tonight the moment dinner ended. She allowed a tolerable amount of playtime, negotiated dustups as they arose between brothers, ushered children into the bath tub, supervised a dance party, worked a puzzle, and then began the great attempt to wind them down for books and bed.
Yeah right, like this happens easily.
The boys rock out to Mary Poppins’ chimney sweeps singing “Step in Time”, and then we head downstairs. Pajamas. Glasses of water. They are completely wound up, their little minds active and awake.
Let’s. Read. Books, she said nicely, gritting her teeth.
Am I the only parent who when, as the hour approaches 8 pm, feels like she is just completely, entirely done?
I am not with my kids all day because I work full time, and I treasure my time with them. The problem is that nearly every hour of my day is devoted to a) kids or b) work, thus leaving c) me or d) my partner and me conclusively out of the picture. Instead of winning a $640 mega-million lottery, I wish for a mega-million hour day (although both would be fabulous).
I don’t mean to be the cranky mama. But when I left the daycare tonight with the littlest screaming bloody murder in my arms – every other parent in the parking lot’s eyes on me – it didn’t bode well. Here’s how my evening played out.
We arrive home. One kid is happy. The other is still mad that I made him leave his big brother’s super fun and fascinating preschool classroom. They are both hungry. I scramble to put out veggies and crackers and throw something frozen in the oven.
We go outside (it’s not raining, so we cannot resist). Everyone is happy now.
We admire tiny ants crawling on trees and pick up dog poop (this is really fun for the littlest).
We look at more tiny ants. We march around in the muddy yard and admire the small starts on the garden beds. Littlest child takes off boots to walk around in muddy socks.
Eldest child climbs tree. Finds more ants. Littlest child yells for Mama to pick him up so he, too, can see the ants.
Dinner might be burning.
Where is Daddy?
Eldest and littlest are convinced to come inside to eat. They both eat good dinners – leftover pasta with red sauce, raw veggies, and frozen artichoke puffs that contain mostly cheese and a little spinach.
Daddy arrives home. Everyone cheers.
Let’s return to the concept we call Bedtime.
In philosophy, an important distinction is whether an object is considered abstract or concrete. Unfortunately, my young philosophers prefer to define the concept of Bedtime abstractly, while Drill Sergeant Mama insists Bedtime is a concrete activity that results in real, live sleeping children.
I give up briefly and leave the
imps children on our king-sized bed to begin the wind down routine with their father while I drink a glass of wine I toss soiled clothes into the washer and fold a gigantic pile of clean clothes.
Before heading to the laundry room, I give strict instructions. Brush teeth. Read three books. Be quiet. You may snuggle under a blanket if necessary.
Moments later, crashing sounds and peals of laughter resound above me. Tickling fights on the bed ensue. Both children are now jumping as high as they can while their father eggs them on. I can’t quite tell, but I think they are pretending to be pirates on a sinking ship.
This is Not.Winding.Down.
But Daddy did get their teeth brushed.
Drill Sergeant Mama returns to the scene to announce darkly that there are now seven minutes remaining for books, and then it’s Time For Bed.
Chagrined, the boys actually settle down for a few minutes, and the eldest picks out the book that I least enjoy: a preschool friendly book filled with images of gigantic spiders – bigger than lifesize. The photographs are blown up to frog, no, cat-like proportions, and are seriously creepy. As we read, both boys take turns pretending to be attacked by spiders, be spiders, or transform into enemies of spiders who prevent attacks with their “force fields”. Never mind the littlest can’t talk much. He is totally into this.
When I drag them away from the spider book, we read Byron Barton’s Planes and Mama, Will It Snow Tonight? by Nancy Carlstrom. We are transitioning into a wonderful moment where both boys go to bed at the same time. In the same room. As you may imagine, it’s not going over so well with the eldest, but since he gets to wear a totally awesome headlamp from REI and take a notebook, books and a pen to bed, he concedes.
Ahhhh. Good Night Moon.