Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sweet Dreams

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.


debbie bailey said...

You're so funny!

Angela said...

Oh enjoy those years while you have them - I SO miss having my kids around - and 1½ hrs of reading time every night is a wonderful bonus [thinkof all those years when they were squalling babies and you LONGED for a moments quiet to read a book!]
Thanks for all your great comments on my blog recently. Wish we lived nearer- would love to meet you in person [and introduce you to my beloved Bob!]

Tracy said...

Send those boys to me...I'll whip them into bedtime shape and send them back!

Our 3 are all (including the 13yo) in bed, lights out by 8.30pm. If not, cranky parents emerge. Miss Mischief is the only one still awake after 9pm....when she comes out saying "I can't sleep" she gets the response "You can't sleep out here standing up ~ go back to bed". Every so often I let her read for a bit....but not often.

One sentence leaped out at me....your kids wear Levi's. LEVI'S???!!!! I don't wear Levi's, let alone the kids!!!!!! They're $120AUD/pair, starting price here. I can only imagine this is another case of US cheap brands = Aussie designer Osh Kosh and the like.

Ali said...

Will Tracy take my kids too? Although, to be fair, the little one is a good sleeper and in bed by 7.30.

And since changing school, the big one is exhausted and even he, confirmed night owl, is conked out by 9. Perhaps you need hard manual labour during the day - the kitchen cleaning, maybe?!

Pom Pom said...

I remember parking in the hall when our kids were nightowling it up. I tried to convince them that sleep is lovely - never worked. Our oldest (who is still NOT a sleeper at 28!) got a lot of reading done when I thought he was downstairs sawing logs. When I went back to school and had to read the literary canon (sort of) he'd comment on my reading lists - he'd read them all! He'd read them all in the middle of the night! He also made a denim guitar strap, complete with embroidery - in the wee hours of the morning! You're such a good mama, Frances!

Susan said...

If only our kids would tell us the last time that we'll do something it would be so much easier to savor the moment. When will the last time be that we carry them up the stairs? When's the last time we'll refill a sippy cup? When's the last time we'll cut a sandwich into tiny bite-sized pieces? What night will be the last one when we'll have to sit up reading while they settle themselves for bed? How to savor moments and still maintain daily existence is a real quandry.

Gumbo Lily said...

I liked this.

Angela said...

You asked on my blog about my preaching - I'm a fairly traditional evangelical English Baptist preacher- biblebased, usually threepointsermon sort of a girl. Just lately I have got into doing the 'first poerson narrative' thing as an alternative approach. You can read my Mary Magdalene one here

Left-Handed Housewife said...

Thanks, Debbie. Some days I feel funnier than others!
Angela, I'd love to meet you and your Bob, too! My husband has lately gotten very excited about the idea of hiking the Ridgeway Trail (?) in England, so who knows ... maybe our paths will cross one day.

Tracy, please come and get my children in shape! And Levi's here are expensive, but not THAT expensive, and Will's are hand-me-downs (thanks, Danielle!), which makes them very inexpensive indeed!

Ali, I agree more manual labor is in order around here. I thought school and sports would be enough, but apparently not.

Pom Pom, I love the story about your son and his guitar strap! We are all such nightowls, and I fear it will never change. Must teach the boys to embroider!

Susan, I think you should start your own blog just to expand on that notion. It's been a long time now since I put Jack to bed, and back in the day it seemed like a chore, but now I feel wistful about it. Exactly: why won't they tell us to not take them for granted, because they won't always want us to lie down with them for five minutes after we turn the lights out? (P.S. Will I get to see you when you come to Danielle's for Thanksgiving?)

Thanks, Jody.

Angela, Thanks for the link. I checked it out and loved the sermon. What great storytelling!