It amazes me to think that in a few years, I will no longer have to play bedtime cop, that the hours between seven and eleven might actually belong to me. For reasons I can't explain, after years of splitting bedtime duties pretty evenly with the Man, this year the bedtime routine has become my domain. Mostly, I suppose, because I think it actually matters that the boys have a bedtime routine. The Man likes the idea of a bedtime routine, but can't seem to remember what our established routine is. Every night it's like Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High just walked into the room. "Whoa! Bedtime? Dude! I forgot that kids have to go to bed! Awesome!"
Now Jack can pretty much take care of himself; you just have to poke and prod him to get up to his room at the assigned time (an hour before lights out--and I'll admit it, my children have absurdly late bedtimes--Jack, at age 10, goes to bed at 10) and remind him to brush his teeth and wash his face and floss (yeah, like I'm sure that's happening).
Will has to be corralled. He resists bedtime like the Wicked Witch of the West resists taking a shower. His bedtime, at age almost 7 (the big day is Halloween), is 8:30. At the same age, Jack's was 7:30. Go figure. Anyway, you have to start warning Will at 7:45 that he has to go up in fifteen minutes. His latest, so lovely reply (to almost everything actually), is, "Why should I care?" Nice, huh? I have a fifteen-year-old trapped in a pair of size 6 Levi's.
If he's actually in bed, with lights out, by 8:30, I consider it a huge victory. In bed, asleep? Never in a million years. Unfortunately, we're all night owls, and no matter how much I insist that the house become a sanctuary of quiet as soon as the clock ticks 8:29, it never happens. The Man starts cleaning the kitchen (bless him), always forgetting to close the doors to the front of the house, so all the clattering and clinking travels right up the stairs to Will's room. Jack clomps up the stairs at 9, still full of vim and vigor, with all sorts of information he's neglected to tell me earlier in the day. And--always, always--he's forgotten something, so he clomps back downstairs and clomps upstairs and clomps downstairs ... Why we expect Will to fall asleep before midnight is beyond me.
Still, I can dream. I sit in my reading chair in my study, which is across the hall from Will's room, in hopes that my presence will at very least keep Will in his bed. If I go downstairs, the games in Will's room begin--basketball games, hockey games, games which are loudly announced and enthusiastically acted out. Or he turns on the hall light and sits in his doorway, perusing his baseball card collections or coloring.
So I take guard duty. It's actually not so bad; for years, I've been wanted a regular reading time, and now I have it. I usually read from 8:30 to 10, at which time I remind Jack to turn out his light, and I go downstairs to hang out with the man for an hour or so before I go to bed.
And then the next morning I look around my house and wonder why I never get anything done. Well, that's not true, I do get some things done, and I'm certainly getting a lot of good reading done. I remind myself that soon enough Will will go to bed on his own, that my little jock boy will be so exhausted by sports practices that he won't be able to keep his eyes open. That Jack's teeth will all fall out before too long due to lack of flossing, and I won't have to monitor his dental hygiene routine. I will have my nights back before too long--and will probably start falling asleep on the couch by 8:15.
2 hours ago