Bedtime for BonzoPosted: November 24, 2014
A lot of parents hate bedtime. It’s odd how something that we so love and long for as adults, and so need as children, is pure anathema to the under-twelve set. But actually, my children, who stink at plenty of things–one won’t eat fruits or vegetables in solid form, the other would rather concuss herself than put on a jacket no matter the temperature–have historically been fairly agreeable at bedtime. Yes, in his early toddler days, Das Big Boy required lots of rocking and singing, and on most days Little Liebchen still weasels her way into our bed in the early morning. But they’re pretty good about the act of going to bed. After our bedtime routine (potty, jammies, teeth, books, “best part of the day,” songs), Herr Husband takes the recently nursed Little Liebchen to her crib, then returns so we can both say goodnight to Das Big Boy. And until recently, that was the end of the story. Yes, Das Big Boy would play in his bed for a while, but he’d stay there.
Then all of a sudden he had that realization that children have repeatedly until adulthood: adult authority is a myth if you don’t give a fuck. When I was a teacher, some colleagues would express bewilderment at students who didn’t come to school. Frankly, I was amazed that so many of them showed up. I mean, nerds like I was, yeah, of course they would come. But I was truly stunned that the bad ass kids who did drugs and got into fights and yelled at teachers came to school as often as they did. To this day I find it profoundly moving that they did so.
Anyway, bedtime is a social construct, and Das Big Boy suddenly wasn’t having it. I feel like a lot of kids go through this when they first move to big boy/girl beds, but he was quite good about staying in his bed unless he really, really needed something. He was still much more likely to holler for us.
And then suddenly, about two months ago: Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me. He was out of bed. He was playing with his toys. He was in our room. He was blaming his stuffed animals for the loud crashes we heard. I didn’t climb on the shelves to get the jellyfish; Clifford did it.
We tried putting desirable toys “to bed” by hiding them under blankets. We taped down the light switch and told him the light was sleeping. On one particularly ugly evening that I caught him making book towers, I told him that if he did it one more time I would take every single book out of his room. And then when he did so, I had to honor my promise, practically spitting with rage as I dragged probably two-hundred books out from every corner of his room. It was not my proudest parenting moment.
But I think we’ve finally hit on something that works. His current nightlight is very dim, such that he wants us to leave the door open so he can see his books (yes, I let him take books to bed. I was a sneak-reader and I feel like there are worse things to be) by the hall light. The deal is, if he gets out of bed, even once, the hall light goes off.
This leads to some squeals of, “Help me! Mom, I can’t reach it!” as he tries to keep his feet on the bed while reaching for a book and gets trapped in a sort of wheelbarrow pose, but the stakes seem just high enough to keep him where he belongs.
Until he realizes, “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me,” and starts turning his own light on again, probably so he can do things like remove all of the clothes from his drawers or color on the walls.
It’s bound to happen.
Edit: Just read that the grand jury decided not to press charges against Darren Wilson (ugh), which makes my use of “Killing in the Name of” for my suburban mom blog seem a bit too cute for tonight. Apologies for that.