Bedtime…..This is most parents’ Number One Witching Hour From Hell. The hour of the day that is at the same time most anticipated and most dreaded. As Charles Dickens, aptly put it (he being the father of, like, a billion children): “It is the best of times, it is the worst of times.” You try to give your kid a ton of warnings to prepare them for the event. You’re like a weather forecaster with bad news:
There is a bedtime watch in effect for the Household Region. Lights out estimated between 8 and 9 PM…..The bedtime watch has been upgraded to a bedtime WARNING. Bedtime is very likely….Small people in the Household Region should prepare themselves for an IMMINENT BEDTIME EVENT. Brushing teeth and donning pajamas is strongly suggested. Parents should evacuate the premises if possible. (Note: this is, sadly, never possible, and parents routinely get stuck in the midst of the bedtime maelstrom. Many parents have sadly been lost in this way.)
Yet somehow, in spite of the continual updates and warnings that begin an entire hour before bedtime, when it finally arrives, my daughter is like that family that lives in Kansas and doesn’t own a tornado shelter. They think it will never happen to them and are surprised and vastly upset when it actually DOES. Except my daughter does them one better as bedtime ACTUALLY DOES ARRIVE every…single…night.
Once the little offspring is actually in bed, she suddenly remembers that forcing someone to sleep is a form of torture banned by the Geneva Convention (oh wait….). She exercises her right, as a PoP (Prisoner of Parents) to protest vehemently and uses all strategies at her disposal, including the Hunger Strike. Except in her version, hunger has struck! Suddenly she has the appetite of a Wolverine and the thirst….!! In her words, she’s “thirsting to death,” and without that glass of water and those five saltines, I’m pretty certain that we would be charged with breaking other articles of the aforesaid Convention.
After the threats and bribes and “quick” existential discussions (which are essential to every child’s bedtime ritual), and prayers, and requests to read, and draw, and write, and basically do every activity that I’ve tried to encourage her to do throughout the day, she finally admits defeat.
In my head I’m chanting, “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last!” But then I look at the clock and it’s 11 PM and exhaustion hits me like a wave. I fight to keep my eyes open long enough to enjoy even 30 minutes of child-free bliss, but then I remember that I must wake up at 7 AM the following morning and endure Witching Hour #2, the wake-up hour…