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April 26, 2011

After my daughter was born, I imagined a scene where she is happily tucked in bed, teeth brushed, face washed, we’re talking about the day in a tidy, well-decorated child’s room, I read a book, deposit a kiss on a tender cheek, and we say, “Goodnight Mommy. I love you,” and “Goodnight sweetheart, I love you too,” and then I slip out.

Nowhere in this scenario is the time I took every single toy, book, and decoration out of my daughter’s room, locked them in a closet, and made her earn her stuff back by going to bed without a tantrum.

Nowhere in this scenario is the time I locked her out of her room with everything in it for a week and made her ask her brother permission to share his room, or else fend for herself with a naptime pillow and blanket on the floor of the hallway outside her bedroom.

Nowhere did I ever envision a child who would emerge from her room every five minutes for four hours every single night until we screamed at her and made her more scared of us than whatever monsters might lurk under her bed.

We tried the nice ways. They failed, and your unsolicited kindly advice offering some ideas I might not have thought of still gets the firehose of sarcasm. “Oh, of COURSE. I never thought to, say, READ A BOOK. How CLEVER you are.”

Bedtimes are easy now.

We say “tootle toddle off to bed,” and my kids do just that. My son, who has always been a joy to put to bed, with the stories and the kisses, and the “I love you mommy” dives under his covers and falls asleep. My daughter curls up with a book or five and reads herself to sleep. It sounds idyllic, and it is, because bedtime has been a crucible and anything that might mar the ease of bedtime has been burned away by parental fury.

I don’t give any kind of advice because every kid is different. This is what works for us. Not any of the bedtime books. Zero books. Zero routine. Just “Go to bed,” and they do. If this book had been written when my kids were toddlers, I would have loved it:

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  1. Jan permalink

    Love it. This is what REAL life is all about. Thank you.

  2. Aunt Lee permalink

    What a GREAT book!

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