Friday, September 08, 2017

Bedtime is the longest distance between two places

Do you have kids who have recently gone back to school?

If so, are they complete, rampaging, raging lunatics at night?

I know it's impolitic to disparage your own children, but boy howdy have my kids been big jerks lately.

I try to be all, oh, it's hard going back to school, and they have to hold it together all day and I'm a safe person to let it out with. They are feeling big feelings. I do try.

Sometimes I manage.

But sometimes, like after the 54th time I've asked them to brush their teeth, even held the toothbrush with toothpaste up to their mouths, and tried to actually do it for them, I lose my everloving mind.

Typically they're in bed by the time Nick gets home. This is nice for him.

But lately after dinner, or sometimes starting midway through, they've been hanging from the chandeliers, galloping back and forth down the hallway, giggling like fiends and basically ignoring every entreaty/threat to put on PJs, or get in the bath, or brush teeth, or get into bed.

Every single step of the process is an ordeal. And then when they're finally ready for bed, the actual getting into and staying in bed takes another hour.

I'm all, don't they understand that I just want them to go to sleep so Nick and I can sit in silence and watch a video?

Oh! Which reminds me: what are you watching? We have a year for more Game of Thrones, and Stranger Things doesn't come out until Halloween. We just watched the only season of Wolf Hall. What's piquing your interest lately?


Nick has been coming home to the detritus of the evening and two little barbarians in frenzied motion.

The other night I was done, just done with my small humans. Nick walked into the bathroom and I left him to deal with them. I went and sat in our closet. I didn't come out until the noise had stopped.

Another night he came home to them in the bath, and he overheard India saying, "I'm going to kick you! Do you want me to kick you in the neck or the penis?"

Both tempting options, to be sure.

Last night we stayed on the playground until dinnertime. For dinner I chucked a frozen pizza and tiny hot dogs in the oven and cut up a cucumber. I let them keep drawing while they ate, since it was just the three of us.

They were lovely, sweet, and relatively subdued while eating.

I did airplane with India after dinner, and snuggled and giggled with her. I gave her special, one-on-one time while Jordan read a novel in the bathroom.

I thought, surely with all the playing and attention, surely tonight will be better.

And then it came time for PJs and teeth brushing and my cherubs morphed into creatures that I longed to menace back into the Hellmouth with a pitchfork.

Nighttime is never easy. I am tired, they are tired, and none of us are at our best. But lately it's just been brutal.

One night I snarled, "You're driving me insane!"

And India said, "Why did you have kids?"

This gave me pause. The first answers that flashed through my head were snarky, nothing I wanted to voice.

So I made a funny face and say, "WHY? Why did I have kids?"

And she smiled and said, "Because you wanted more family?"

I said, "Yes! Because I wanted my own family. Because I wanted little people to love so much. And I do, I love you both more than anything."

She beamed and gave me a big hug. I thought, "Oh! This is one of those rare parenting moments I've done right!"

I said, "Shall we brush our teeth now?"

A parenting article might end with her brushing her teeth and me tucking her into bed and giving her a cuddle and her falling asleep hugging her teddy bear.


Reality is, she clenched her teeth, giggled maniacally, and bolted from the bathroom.

And I was all, I know, I know, the days are long and the years are short. I am sometimes shocked when I step back and see how big they've gotten. I know I'm blessed. I believe children are gifts and I treasure mine.

But right now where is my space pod and gin slushy machine?


  1. This *EXACT* scenario has been playing out at our house, too, since school restarted. Brutal, indeed.

    1. Oh, gosh. Big hugs. I think it's such a HUGE transition from summer, where our schedules and places we slept varied so dramatically. And the days were wide open and fun and easy. So much stress for their little bodies and brains! So much stress for Mama!

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  3. Ive been hearing about gummy melatonin. If your pediatrician says no, invite him/her over for a week of bedtimes. My oldest grand girl is the same. Nothing makes my daughter happier than when it's her husbands turn to do ni-nights. Oh and I love when you write. Just love it!

    1. I have used melatonin here and there, but recently read an article about how little it has been studied in children. They really don't know the long-term effects. So that makes me nervous. Which, rats, as it is an effective solution!

      And thanks and hugs!

  4. Warning, Sanctimommy comment ahead! STOP. Just stop the fighting. It's AMAZING how quickly stubborn kids respond to it. They don't want to brush teeth? Shrug, say "okay" and walk away. They don't want to go to bed? Shrug and said "okay, I'm going to read a book" and walk away. You are feeding into their power struggle, and they are winning. You have the power to stop the power struggle. This advice was given to me by a sanctimommy, and it has been AMAZING with my stubborn kid. I hadn't realized how I was feeding into the battles.

    1. This makes sense to me, although if I leave my kids alone, they will keep playing or reading or whatever it is they are doing. It's that I've interrupted their fun. So, do you check in periodically? Or what? Because I would happily go read a book, but I can't put them to bed at 10pm.

      Also, last night was fine, so maybe they've gotten through the initial jolt of school stress and insanity? I hate to say that out loud and invite the crazy back upon myself.

      And finally, I'm so sorry about all the new house stress and trauma you are dealing with. Terrible.

  5. Freaking hilarious. I resorted to brushing my 8 year olds teeth the other morning, which I haven't done in years. She just couldn't comprehend the directions and do it! Their brains have been taken over!!

    1. Thanks! I do think they are totally overwhelmed right now!

  6. I agaree with sanctimommy comment and I believe in consequences for behavior. Don't want to brush your teeth and get into bed, fine, but No (fill in the blank - tv, screentime, desert, playground). No, their teeth won't fall out if they don't brush for a day or so until they get the message.

    1. We had gotten to such a good point, and even this summer, sometimes they didn't want to but there wasn't all this pushback. But I do need to back off sometimes--as you said, their teeth won't fall out with one lack of brushing. I think your suggestion of no dessert, and linking no teeth brushing with no sugar is a good one.


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