It never ceases to amaze me how like me my middle child is.
For one thing, she is a night owl. She’s just wired that way. No matter how consistently I try to get her to bed by 7:30 every night, the 5-year-old child is incapable of falling asleep before 10PM.
We do the whole bedtime routine thing. We lay in her bed together and read a book, snuggle, and chat for a few minutes. Then I say goodnight and exit the room. Sometimes she likes to start out in our bed, and sometimes she puts her sleeping bag in the hallway. We don’t really care where she is as long as she isn’t bothering us. Wherever she ends up, she lays awake and talks and sings for hours.
One night last week I made the mistake of allowing her and her 8-year-old brother to start out in my bedroom together. I was downstairs watching TV, and I could hear her and her brother talking and playing over the sounds of the TV. Finally I heard a loud shriek of delight, and I knew I couldn’t pretend any longer that I didn’t hear the ruckus upstairs.
Yes, I have been known to pretend I don’t know my kids are misbehaving because I’m too lazy to get off the couch and be The Parent. That’s really why you come here, isn’t it? You know you can always count on me to make you feel superior about your parenting skills. You’re welcome.
Finally I pulled my lazy arse off the couch and calmly walked to the foot of the stairs. Very kindly and sweetly I called, "Children. I’m going to have to ask you both to get in your own beds. I don’t want to hear anymore noise."
Within seconds of my polite request, Little D made his way compliantly into his room and assumably crawled into bed. How I love that kid.
I was so proud of my ability to keep my cool and achieve the desired
goal — a veritable model of good parenting was I. So I paused to pat
myself on the back.
Then I heard my daughter’s familiar wail of protest.
"Princess C," I said sternly, still impressed with my ability to maintain my composure. "It’s late, and I want you to go to your room and get into bed. I don’t want to hear another sound, do you understand?"
"Okay. But will you lay with me?" came her plaintive reply.
Beginning to tire of this facade of textbook parenting and its less than effective results, I curtly responded, "No. I’m off the clock. And YOU need to go to bed."
The wailing resumed as my patience began to wane. I could feel my halo slipping.
"Princess C!" louder this time. "If I hear another sound I will have to come upstairs, and it won’t be pretty." I listened for another moment at the foot of the stairs.
Ahh, parenting at its finest. It’s nice to know that the vague idle
threat does work sometimes. Although my halo was now sitting slightly
I returned to my roost on the couch. After exhausting the collection of shows recorded on my DVR, I decided to head upstairs to bed. As I approached the stairs, the sound of kids’ music playing and the familiar voice of my 5-year-old wafted through the air, evidence that my little nightingale had not yet succumbed to the charm of the sandman.
I resolutely began climbing the stairs. As I rounded the corner into her room I found two lamps illuminating the room in a pink glow, music blaring from the pink CD player on her dresser, and a little girl laying crosswise on top of her pink quilt that was still intact from when I made her bed that morning. I could feel my blood pressure rising and steam about to escape from my ears.
When she saw me enter the room she popped up, floral nightie swinging and blond curls spilling over her shoulders as she held her arms out to embrace me with an expectant smile.
And a vision of myself at her age came hurtling from the recesses of my memory bank — an irrepressible little girl lying awake in her bed for hours talking a blue streak, lost in her own world of imaginary friends.
Whatever resolve I had to implement discipline melted at the sight of her and the assault of my own childhood memories. I swept her up in my arms and carried her towards my room.
"Mommy!?" she said brightly. "Are you going to bed now?"
"Can I sleep with you?"
Giddily she cuddled up next to me under the heavy down comforter and buried her face in the back of my neck.
"’Night, Princess," I said sleepily.
"I love you, Mama," came the muffled reply.
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