#1 on our count-down: Say Goodnight, Gracie. Originally posted in March of this year.
Bed time. It's a time I look forward to all day long. It is also a time I dread all day long. "It's all over & I can relax" versus "I know have to fight a never ending battle to get the FarmHands in bed." Some days it's a zen experience. Some days I feel like I've been thrown to the lions in the Roman Colosseum.Here's how, ideally, it's supposed to go:
Dinner, eaten politely while we calmly chat about our day ("What was your favorite/least favorite part of the day?" is our favorite conversation starter).
Table cleared & tiny faces & hands washed.
Teeth brushed well & happily.
Everyone snuggles down on the couch to listen to our latest chapter book, Bible stories, or a picture book eagerly picked from the school library shelf.
Children are sent to potty, wash hands, and put on lotion (their hands get horribly chapped...I'm 99% sure it's the crappy soap in the school bathrooms), and get a final drink of water.
Nightlights & radio/white noise machines are turned on.
Hugs, kisses, and noses rubbed (Eskimo kisses, but they never call them that) as they are tucked in.
I prance off to finish my laundry & watch something enlightening on PBS.
Here's how it usually goes:
Everyone gripes because they don't like what I've cooked for dinner. The options of what I made or cold cereal are laid out. BabyGirl starts bossing B.B. B.B. starts screaming at BabyGirl for telling him what to do. #1 Son cries because it's not fair that BabyGirl got to drink out of a cup with no lid & he didn't. B.B. cries because his Spider-Man plate is dirty. Bitsy eats her food, smears the remainders of what's in the bowl on the table (if I'm lucky) or her head (if I'm not lucky or we're eating Spaghetti). BabyGirl finishes her dinner & demands a bowl of cereal or hot dog that I know she'll never finish but she insists she'll starve to death without.
I scrape the plates into the goat bucket mumbling about how I'm sick to death of cooking for farm animals while Bitsy steals the opportunity to climb onto the table top, dance around a bit, and pilfer food from anyone's plate left unattended. When I catch her & attempt to wash her face she cries & insists she's not done eating.
The FarmHands are told to go brush their teeth. And told again. And told again. And threatened with in an inch of their lives if they do not Get. In. That. Bathroom. Right. Now. Finally, I stand over & supervise the tooth brushing to insure there's enough toothpaste left in the tube to get us through morning brushes, the water isn't left on continually, teeth are brushed for more than 8 seconds (this isn't the rodeo people), and sinks are rinsed out. I brush Bitsy & B.B.'s teeth for them.
Next begins the pajama wars. "Why isn't B.B. wearing pajamas? It's no fair that he gets to wear boxer shorts & I don't!" B.B. is going to put his on right now. "But I don't wanna' wear jammies! I wanna' wear my Shrek unner' pants!" "I can't find my black t-shirt to wear!" That's because you've worn if for 5 days straight. It could stand up on it's own. It's in the washer. "But I only want to wear that! I can't think of anything else to wear! Why did you do this to me?! This is why everyone hates you!" You only have to wear them for 20 minutes, you sleep naked, remember? "But I still can't find anything to wear! It's Not Fair!!"
Everyone begins jockeying for position on the couch for stories. "That's my spot!" "He's touching me!" "I can't see the pictures!!" "Get out of my way!" "Is this a chapter book? I don't like chapter books. Can we read Green Eggs & Ham again? Why not? Please! But we've only read it 4 times this week!" "Why are we reading the Girls' Bible? Why can't we read the Boys' Bible?" "Why can't I read the bedtime story?" "No! No! We don't want BabyGirl to read it. We want Mommy to read!" "It's not fair! I never get to read the story!" When you give birth, you'll get to read the stories. "This is why everyone hates you!" "Bitsy, don't eat the book!!" "I didn't hear that page, read it again." "I didn't see the picture, turn it around! Show me again!" "One more book, please? Just one more? We promise we'll be good & listen this time. Promise!"
Then off to the bathroom to potty one last time. The boys race to the toilet insuring someone will end up screaming in the floor that he has to pee much, much worse than the brother currently perched on the throne. BabyGirl wanders off to the other bathroom & never comes out again. Bitsy starts flushing the toilet repeatedly while someone is sitting on it making that child scream, "No, Bitsy! I'm not done pooping yet!" at the top of his or her lungs. Without fail, #1 Son ends up half naked during this process & takes 5 more minutes to re-dress himself. In the meantime, B.B. starts washing his hands prompting #1 Son to scream, "I get to wash my hands first! I was finished peeing first! It's my turn!" regardless of the fact that he's still sitting half naked on the bath mat. The hand towel is left in the sink 75% of the time.
Night lights are turned on. BabyGirl's CD player is cued up & paused for her. The boys argue about whether or not to listen to "the frogs" on their white noise machine. They always listen to them. Always. But the debate must still occur.
I get hugged, kissed, and my nose rubbed by both boys. Bitsy gets hugs & kisses from whomever she deems worthy that night (on good nights, it's both boys. On bad nights, she plays favorites). Then B.B. insists that I have not hugged or kissed him, so I do it again. I say to each boy, "Good night. I love you. I'll see you in the morning." They each say the same thing to me as fast as humanly possible, over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. Finally I tell them, "That's enough. Don't get out of bed." To which #1 Son replies, "Got it, Mom," and B.B. replies, "Say, 'Don't get out of bed.'" Don't get out of bed. "Say, 'OK.'" OK. "Say, 'Aye, aye.'" Aye, aye. I shut the door as they start chanting, "Good night. I love you. See you in the morning," again. I stand outside the closed door & holler for them to be quiet & go to sleep.
BabyGirl is sent in her room to read for a few minutes while I rock Bitsy to sleep. B.B. gets up the first time for a drink of water because he "forgot while he was peeing." I tuck him back in. He comes out a second time to tell me he misses Daddy. I tuck him in with a warning not to get out of bed. He gets up one last time to see if I'm serious. He discovers I am. Very serious. BabyGirl is told to go to sleep. She begs to be allowed to read, "Just one more book. Please. Just one. I'm supposed to read a lot. My teacher says so. Besides I'm not tired yet." No. It's bed time. "Can I have a banana first? That wasn't enough dinner." No. Go to bed. "But I'm starved!" Bed. "Ugh!" Where are you going? "I have to pee!" What were you doing the 15 minutes you were in the bathroom earlier. "What? I don't know what you're talking about." Just go & get in bed. "I AM! WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS YELLING AT ME?!" When she's done I hug & kiss her good night & tuck her in. She gets up at least twice to tell me to turn the TV down (even when it's not on) or to ask me to cuddle with her (mainly when I'm rocking the baby to sleep).
Bitsy wanders around the living room yelling to be allowed to go "Pway!" in the boys' room. Then she needs to build things with her blocks, love on all her babies, make piles of pillows to lay on, drink a cup of milk, rock in the chair with me, get down & run around so she doesn't accidentally fall asleep, empty her toy bucket, rock some more, laugh very loudly at the blanket on the back of the rocking chair (I have no idea why this is funny), and finally give up & allow herself to be rocked to sleep.
I put her in bed, grab a half eaten bag of chocolate chips from the freezer, and collapse on the couch to watch mindless TV, Sweeny Todd, or Pride & Prejudice for the fourth time this month while I try to remember why I wanted four children.
I do love them. Truly I do. But there are some nights I'd rather run off & join the circus than try to get them all tucked in. And since time change, it's been 10 times worse than normal. We may have to start getting ready for bed at 4:30 every night just to make our 7:30 bedtime.
Bitsy still wakes up in the night. Since she's now in BabyGirl's room, at least to start off with each night, I didn't hear her. When she wakes, she toddles down to our room to sleep on a palate on the floor by our bed (long story), or climbs in with us (I'm working on this. Really I am) occasionally asking for a cup of milk. I woke up at about 1:30 Monday or Tuesday morning to find her standing by my bed with a gallon jug of milk in her hand. It took me a moment to realize what was happening. When I did, I took the milk jug (that only had about a pint of milk left in it) and headed to the kitchen. The refrigerator door was standing wide open & her cup was on the top shelf. I'm pretty sure the light blinded her a bit so she grabbed the next best thing....the entire jug of milk.
I'm just glad she's not good at screw on caps yet.