My daughter is 3 years old, so that means that bedtime is the worst thing that could possibly happen to her. Because bedtime happens every single night, it’s pretty much cruel and inhumane torment on a nightly basis. I look forward to going to sleep, but based on her adverse reaction to bedtime, it must be very different for my small child to succumb to the sweet, sweet comfort of her pillow. I think there might be snakes that slither exclusively on and bite small children when their heads hit the pillow, based on the wailing and crying I hear sometimes. Really, I get that stopping her busy day in order to sleep probably sucks. When you are a kid, pretty much everything is done for fun. You get to run, get dirty, have snacks, engage in enriching and exciting activities, go new places ... so to stop doing all of those things in order to do something boring like sleep must be really awful.
Cry me a river, kid. I’d give my left eyeball to be able to take a daily nap. Seriously. Left eyeball. I could live with one eyeball and a sweet eye patch if it meant I could go off into a room next to my office, curl up in the dark and sleep for two hours every day.
The other night, I tried to explain why it was essential for her to sleep by trying to make it funny. I told her that just like her toys needed their batteries to recharge, she needed sleep to let her energy recharge. I even made a little chant to go with it where I wiggled her all around and said she had to recharge her “batteries” so she could, “RUNRUNRUNRUNPLAYPLAYPLAYPLAY WOOOO!”
That just resulted in the chant having to be repeated about 50 times.
We’ve evolved past just crying to delay bedtime; now, we’re in the excuses phase. Here are a few of the excuses my daughter has given me in regards to why she’s not asleep:
—“I want one more snuggle.”
—“But ... I’m a princess.”
—“I am Peter Pan, and Peter Pan doesn’t sleep.”
—“MY FEET ARE STICKING OUT [of the blanket]!!!!”
—(After she sneaks out into the living room, where we are watching "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre") “I just wanna watch this part!” (Uh, NO.)
—“Your eyes are cold, and you need to put something on them.”
—“I’m gonna sleep sitting up, like a stork!”
—(crying) “I miss the car!”
—“My poo-poo wants its mama!”
Every single one of those things is an actual excuse that my child has given me to delay bedtime. At first, the excuses are funny, and I can walk in there calmly and patiently to try and comfort her to sleep. But after about the sixth time of her crying or meowing or telling me that her feet are sticking out of the blanket, I pretty much end up just bursting in there like a crazed rhinoceros while threatening her with pretty much any form of punishment I can think of: I SWEAR IF YOU DON’T GO TO SLEEP I’M GOING TO TAKE AWAY YOUR TOYS, PUT YOU IN TIME-OUT AND THEN SELL YOU ON CRAIGSLIST.
I know that this phase will not last forever and that people whose children are older than mine love to remind me regularly that I will miss moments like these. What I want to do when people say those things to me is punch them directly in the throat and then walk away. What I actually do is smile and nod and thank them for their wise words of wisdom. Thank you so much! I will try and remember that, one day, there will come a time when I will miss having to go into my daughter’s room for an hour and a half straight because her feces is lonely and needs its mother.
Power struggles are tough, and it’s hard to keep your cool when your kid is pushing your buttons. My advice is to just take a deep breath; and once your child really is asleep, flop down on the couch, crack open a beer (or four), relax and get ready to do it all over again tomorrow because there ain’t no party like a bedtime party, ‘cause a bedtime party don’t stop.
Sound off, parents: What excuses have your kids thrown at you to delay bedtime?
Natalie Green is a Chicago girl living in Chattanooga with her husband and their 3-year-old daughter. When she’s not working full time outside of the home, she enjoys reading, writing, singing, zombies and running. From zombies. And also beer. You can stalk her blog, Mommy Boots, or follow her on Twitter @mommyboots; or you can email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.