Monday, December 6, 2010

Bedtime for Idiots...Meaning, Me

I love bedtime. Well, to be honest, I love the idea of bedtime. I feel like by the time 8:30pm rolls around, I would be done with all the yelling, having used it up to get them up, get them to school, picking them up, refereeing the fights about homework and who gets to be #1 on Wii and who touched who first and taking out the trash and eating their peas and clearing the table and will you please stop talking back before my hair just starts falling out in huge clumps right here at the dinner table already...

In my mind, bedtime is this dreamy, slightly out of focus montage  of bubble baths and yummy smelling shampoo, soft cozy jammies, singing the ABC's while brushing teeth, doing cheers with the little paper cups of water, giggle swishing and spitting en masse into the sink before collectively climbing into one big bed for an awesome story that culminates in three sleeping kids that have to be lovingly moved into their own beds and - as I quietly close the last door - being greeted by McLovin with a glass of Pinot Noir in his hand. And, it's over with at 8:45pm.

McLovin also looks eerily like Daniel Craig.

Rather, it's a little like this...actually, it's exactly  like this. "Time for bed!" - we've discovered - is the kid equivalent of declaring war on a hostile nation. A hostile nation of short people who have no intention of making this soft, cozy, fuzzy nor over with at 8:45pm. In fact, they've basically already created a war plan that will guarantee my surrender at some point.

I call it The No Bed Doctrine.

  • Disorient the Mompetition: My kids employ one of two strategies that I have yet to conquer. It's either The Whine & Evade, which involves all three of them disappearing in three different directions the moment I call bedtime. And then it's like they're everywhere and nowhere at the same time. McGee is complaining from the kitch -- nope, she's in the bathroom. Or, maybe the laundry room...where the hell is she? Lefty and Happy -- being the cunning sort -- have hidden themselves away with the baby monitor, so I go looking for them where I hear their voices. And, just as soon as I figure that little trick out, they've lit out for another room. Slithery little men. They'll make excellent long-term bachelors. 
Or, they opt for The Overwhelming Loudness, in which they all vie for the shower or no-i-want-a-bath! and get out of my way! and I'm first! and NO! I'm first! and MOOOM HE'S IN MY WAY AND I WANT TO BRUSH MY TEETH AND SHE RAN OFF WITH THE CUPS! all in the same instant and there's a lot of stomping and screaming and crying and running of water, which everyone knows how to turn on but no one knows how to turn off and I'm pretty sure that somehow the toys are resposnsible for this and Rubber Ducky is looking less and less like a benign aquatic plaything and more and more like a sinister avian totalitarian leader hell bent on chaos to facilitate his escape to a world that doesn't have a toilet in it. And then I get a grip and a tissue and threaten them all with duct tape, which is my preferred weapon of choice. Thank you, MacGyver.
  • War Zone Isolation: This usually happens in the bathroom, forcing me to cross a minefield of slippery wet bath toys to acquire my prey, in the form of a lotioned-up naked 4-year old who has less grip than a Wesson-ed pig at the Iowa State Fair. Having been incapacitated by foam alphabet letters wedged in between my toes and blinded by soapy-water filled squirt toys with eerily accurate aim, the naked villain escapes, and I'm left with seven inches of water on the floor, towels that weigh 67 pounds each and a soaking wet prisoner of war -- the geriatric gimpy beagle - glaring at me from inside the bathtub with a half of bottle of Johnson's baby wash embedded in his fur. He "detonates" about six seconds later, slinging a noxious combination of wet fur, foam and filthy water all over, well, everything. But, mostly me.
  • Chemical Warfare: Toothpaste is a funny thing. It slips off of everything it's supposed to stick to, specifically toothbrushes and TEETH, and yet sticks to everything else, predominantly clothing, sinks, countertops, faucets, mirrors, wet dogs, dry floors, hair and doorhandles. I estimate in my house, toothpaste is 20% cleaning agent, 75% toxic blue ooze, and 657% of the reason I'm going to lose my ever lovin' mind.
  • PsyOps: "Well, all the towels were wet, so I tried to dry off with toilet paper, but now I have all these little wormy things on me..." "I used the dog's smells funny..." "I was supposed to finish that adobe village for tomorrow's class project..." "I tried to make some milk, but I should hurry, it's still dumping out of the jug..." "I didn't wash my hair in the shower, so I used Daddy's shaving cream..." "I thought it was lotion...what is D-E-S-I-T-I-N? It's kinda sticky..." "I needed a haircut...I think I didn't do such a good job..." "Mom, why is your eye doing that wiggly thing like that?"
  • Fictional Truce: Thank you, Ben Ten and Star Wars and the Hardy Boys and Olivia and Magic Tree are my Vienna Accords. You are also the reason the IHPs don't sleep in potato sacks in the shed. Because, for eleven minutes every night, there are three mostly-clean, quiet, non-arguing faces all mashed together on two pillows actually agreeing to listen to the same story. And for a few moments, we have detente...or so I think. Little do I know they're silently communicating with each other through Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. I'm pretty sure if I'm reading the story about the Tiny Biter Taker Eaters, they're plotting to do exactly that tomorrow. I would really appreciate it if Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle would open up a Can o' Wup-Ass one of these days. 
  • Aftershocks: And, just when I think it's done and the prayers are said and the roses (best parts) and thorns (worst parts) of our day are announced and the kisses are doled out and the night lights lit and the doors shut and there *might* even be a wine-bearing McLovin at the end of the hall, they deploy their final weapon. "Moommmmm, I'm thirsty." "Mommy, I need to go potty..."  "Mom, I can't find my room is messy. Can you help me clean it?" "Mom, can I have a snuggle?" "No, I wanna snuggle FIRST!" "NO! ME FIRST!" [crying] "I wanna go first! It's not faaaaaiirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!" 
Which means I deploy my ONE weapon: Operation McLovin. He stands in the hallway and addresses three closed doors.

McLovin: Children?
IHPs, in unison: What?
McLovin: What face do you think Mommy is making right now?
IHPs, in unison: Mad-Face
McLovin: And what does that mean in the morning?
IHPs, in unison: More Mad-Face.
Happy: And no pancakes...
McLovin: Right. Mommy is the Pancake Master. Mad-Face does not make pancakes. Tell Mommy goodnight.
IHPs, in unison: Goodnight. 

Victory is mine. And, just as you might imagine, victory smells *exactly* like wet dog. 

Speaking of which, I have a prisoner to rescue. 

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010


  1. At first I read that the rubber ducky was a sinister avian toiletarian, and it totally made sense to me.

  2. So, this one time at band camp, I mean yesterday...I found a sink full of toothpaste and then discovered that my 6 year old decided that she wanted to write words with it....

  3. Awww, I don't feel so alone!


    not to mention the atomic bomb that is left with toys all a flitter, you would think santa stopped early...

  4. Hugs to you! I only have 2 kids and the dog goes no where near the bathroom when they're in it but I can *totally* relate to EVERY thing. However our mornings are so chaotic that pancakes aren't an option except on weekends. Kudos to the Pancake Master!! The battles are many, but you will win the war!!! :o)

  5. Aw man! I'm expecting my second child in March and this is scaring me. My first talked for 1 hr 45 minutes in her bed last night...I kid you not! I need a bigger house...preferably one with a basement where I can hide while I lose my shmidt.

  6. I live in the same house. My older one employs the Guilt-Inducer strategy. Where she whines that "it is no fair that baby gets to stay up later and snuggle more. Why won't you snuggle with me more? Why can't I have a bottle on your lap? You love him more."

  7. It's the repeated requests for water and hugs and woobies after the little "angels" have been tucked into bed that really make me lose it.

  8. (disclaimer: while i have an extremely hands on husband,)i often have to fight the shrill in my voice to ask for some assistance when hubs is relaxing with a sam adams and a book in front of the fire while i supervise 3 baths/showers, stories, teeth, and a "couple minutes" with each child. i'm usually met with a "why didn't you just ask in the first place" look.

  9. Are u sure you are not peeking in my windows? So nice to know I am not alone in the battle of bedtime. :)

  10. Oh. dear. lord. Laughed so hard, the dog thought there was something WRONG with me. Well, there is, but I'm not tellin' her what it is. . .

  11. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and a can of Wup-Ass. Now THAT is a mom's dream!!

  12. you need to get McLovin to give some sort of workshop we can send our husbands to. mine has good intentions it seems, but isn't one to act without being directly asked, which is almost as infuriating as the children's behavior.

  13. This made me feel so much better! Bedtime usually ends with me screaming, then crying, then surrendering and getting into bed with them and falling asleep in my clothes.

  14. My daughter is the *Master* of the stall tactics. As soon as 8:30 rolls around, she suddenly has a bazillion and one things she must chat with me about; and, of course, children are completely incapable of ANY kind of productive activity while chatting up Mommy.

    Pancakes? On a school day? Seriously? Are you out of your freaking mind?!? Oh, get up early to *exercise* don't you? Kate, you are either my hero or a truly sick and twisted individual.
    A bowl of cereal, aka: Kiddie Kibble, is the norm. Then there are the mornings where she makes herself a bowl of TJ's mac and cheese. Hey. It's hot AND has protein.

  15. Oh how I loved this post! Right now, I am sad to report that I have a dreamy bedtime routine...20 month olds who have a bath, teeth brushed, warm fuzzy pajamas, a fun story, and abc lullabyes from mommy before bed. On the other bookend, I have an 11 year old stepdaughter who does everything herself until prayers that we have together after the small ones go to bed. Then I get 11 year old squeezes, lock my door and have a relaxing evening with hubby beginning at 9:04 exactly. I know, I'm a snarky whatever, but...ask me how this warm fuzzy routine is going a year from now and I'm sure I'll be insane. Thanks for the good reading, though!

  16. my kids are 6, 3 1/2 and 2 1/2 and share a room. Bedtime is a nightly battle that I hate. my husband does NOT do bedtime. Even when I'm lucky enough to get out of the house without kids (rare), if I'm not home by bedtime, there is no going to bed. Baths start immediately after dinner out of necessity. my son doesn't want to bathe with his little sisters and the girls will likely kill each other if they have to be in the same tub. Eventually 830 rolls around (never soon enough) and the chaos really begins. screaming, crying, whining, walking in slow motion, forgetting how to get up to the top bunk, fighting over who gets which bed (they switch around)....I do enjoy story time though, as we are now reading chapter books. If they can get into bed within 10 minutes, I'll read 2 chapters. We're almost done with Superfudge. By the time I'm done reading, my youngest is usually asleep, ahhh, and to avoid the last minute "i'm thirsty, i'm hungry"s, each kid has a water bottle and a bowl of grapes DURING story time. Despite the things that work, I still really hate bedtime and look forward to when they're older and just don't want to get out of bed! lol

  17. Aaagh! My 18 mo DD severly bruise (??broke??) my ribs yesterday, and this post about killed me everytime I laughed! Thanks for the pain :-)

  18. My little staller did the ultimate stall last night--she lost her first tooth. 3 minutes before bedtime. And of course that's such a momentous occasion that we just HAD to stay up an extra half hour. Why do milestones happen at bedtime?! Love your blog! It's like my house....

  19. OHmygosh! My kids are 8, 11 and 13 and this is *still* pretty much their bedtime routine! oh, minus the dog ;)

  20. Oh the joy! I have a 2 year old that gets her second wind when her 5 year old brother goes to bed. DH will stay up with her till she crashes so I don't go crazy but bathtime sounds suspiciously like my house but with the 2 YO trying to touch her brother's private parts. DUH do NOT stick it out towards her and she will not try to touch it. Drives me crazyyyyyyyy

  21. For some odd reason in my house, bedtime is exactly the same, minus the dog. In our house, it seems to be the cat that ends up in the shower for some odd reason! My male dog is petrified of water and will only follow 1 person into the bathroom, ME! Not sure why, though, as I am also the only person to bathe his butt! My female is 3lbs and fits on my wrist to stick in the shower, and doesnt care either way! :D

  22. I love this!!! Thanks for sharing - because it's all true whether you have one kid or 7. Now I just need to get my own McLovin!

  23. Mine likes to Jackson Pollock all over the bathroom with her baby Tylenol. Right. Before. Getting. A. Fever. So we have to make a middle-of-the-night dash to resupply. And then she decides it's really the stomach flu and pukes in my hair at 3AM. Actually, that's her favorite trick. I can be sitting upright, just waking up, my Mommy Radar quivering with the knowledge that ...something... is wrong, and somehow I still get puke in my hair.

  24. Bathtime = When Child Gets Home From School.

    One less irritating part of the bedtime routine out of the way on Mommy's way to Couch Time.

  25. My favorite: Son yells, "MOM" for the 700th time and you scream back, "WHAT????????" and he replies, "I was just going to tell you I love you." Little guilt inducing monster.

  26. You make pancakes? I thought breakfast came in a box that you pour in a bowl and add milk to.

  27. Tonight my 6 yr old walked up to me in the kitchen, said "I'm tired, goodnight Mom". Had to follow him and ask him if he was sick or something.




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