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…

(Photo: paulmcdee/Flickr)

We are one of those modern, three-parent families. The third parent might happen to be a 37 inch wide flatscreen, but I know that it’s doing its part in raising my girls to be independent, well-adjusted adults.

Here are the latest valuable lessons that gaming has taught my girls lately:

  1. Interracial marriage is awesome. Even interspecies marriage. My 11yo’s first crush was on an Orc named Razh-Nogul in Skyrim. They’re now married and Razh-Nogul stays home with the kids while my 11 yo goes out and kills dragons. Also, gender stereotypes are for losers.
  2. The definition of transvestite. If my 11yo hadn’t created her own very…um…unique-looking avatar in Mass Effect, she might not have heard me mumble the word and then demanded that I provide its definition. That would have been a missed learning opportunity.
  3. If Mommy is playing Skyrim there’s a slight chance she might forget to close the basement door. (While this provides opportunity for adventure, those stairs are harder than they look, especially if you’re 1 and you don’t know how to walk yet…. She was fine.).
  4. My 11 yo can build a house that would put Mike Holmes to shame. She even mines the iron ore herself and can craft her own diamond axe to cut wood.
  5. Technical literacy. And I don’t mean that useless Python-coding-for-kids stuff. When my 11yo wants to take a break from me reading her a book, she asks me to “pause the book”. The words “downloadable content,” “installing updates” and “mod version” are also commonplace in her vocabulary. Meanwhile, my 2yo knows exactly which controller to give Daddy when she’s ready to bingewatch Shrek movies. Someday they’ll be rich, successful software developers at Google, and we’ll have the pleasure of knowing our amazing parenting set them on that path. We’re so proud.
  6. Lastly, and most importantly, if there are ever monsters under their beds, they know their mom is fully capable of kicking monster ass with an enchanted ebony Warhammer. There’s nothing like watching mom slay the undead onscreen to make kids feel loved and protected.

(Photo: Javier Domínguez Ferreiro)