Confessional Sunday, a regular feature on PBJ and Chardonnay, is where I reveal my biggest parenting blunders, transgressions and general sins against humanity for the week.
Let me start off by saying that we live in a 1,000 square-foot 1950’s-style ranch where our three bedrooms – not much bigger than jail cells – are clustered together at the end of a tiny hallway directly across from our one tiny bathroom. (We call this the West Wing). So to get all three kids to sleep in a reasonable amount of time (say, under two hours), bedtime consists of a carefully calculated series of events, each of which must go off without a hitch for the next one to occur. Otherwise, Colin is up and out of bed and burping in Braedan’s face. Or Braedan is whispering to Colin to shoot Nerf darts at his head. Or both boys are up and jumping around their shared jail cell laughing and yipping like a couple of wild dogs and in danger of WAKING UP THE BABY!: a HUGE freakin’ no-no.
And while we sometimes have those easy, idyllic, babe-why-don’t-we-have-just-one-more-baby nights, bedtime in our household is often a stressful, no-fun zone shit show. And when this happens, it’s really hard for me not to lose my stuff.
I try. But I am, after all, only human.
Tonight’s shit show was not hugely different from other nights. Colin gets out of bed multiple times for various reasons, to which there are standard replies.
1. I’m hungry.
You should have eaten your dinner then.
2. But I’m really thirsty.
You should have had your milk at dinner then.
3. But I can’t go to sleep.
You can’t go to sleep because you keep getting up. Get in bed, please.
4. I have to go to the bathroom.
Then, go. (Said through the teeth.)
5. I’m not going to bed! (Said while running out of the room and crawling under the dining table).
You’re in a timeout.
6. I have to go to the bathroom.
REPEAT IN VARIOUS ORDERS.
Then there’s Braedan getting up to complain that Colin’s getting up. And the baby crying because she’s sick. And Colin being put into Mommy and Daddy’s bed to fall asleep, which is really his end goal anyway. So when he continues his schtick after this, I turn from a calm, mostly in-control person to just a slightly less sane version of my normal self. This is when I say things I shouldn’t.
A WORD ON COLIN’S BEAR-BO
Bear-bo (AKA BearBear or just Bear) is a stuffed-animal brown bear that Colin treats like a human. He’s had him since he was an infant and his constant presence in our lives has sort of made him akin to a fourth child, despite his bald patches and odd smell that even a toss in the wash cannot get rid of. After a long 2.5-hour day at preschool, Colin rushes in to greet Bear-Bo and hugs him tight to his little chest. He brings him in the car. And the hockey rink. To the dinner table. And, of course, sleep cannot happen without Bear-Bo. To understand Mean Thing #1, you first must understand how much Colin loves his Bear-bo.
So when Colin throws Bear-bo to the floor and declares he doesn’t want him, I know it is a ruse, a new tactic being employed to get out of bed at some future time of his determining. “But I want Bear-bo!” he’ll say to me, squinting from the light.
And yet, even though I know this is just a game being played by a three-year-old boy, and knowing even more how much he loves this scruffy bag of stuffing and dust mites, when he throws Bear-bo to the floor and says he doesn’t want him, I can’t help myself from saying (in a voice oozing calmness to muster some believability), because it’s now been at least an hour since the start of bedtime, “Okay, you don’t want Bear-bo? I’m putting him in the basement where you won’t see him.”
That was mean thing #1. His bottom lip started to quiver and he shook his head emphatically. “No! Don’t put him in the basement!”
Mean thing #2:
But First, A Word on THE DARK:
Colin is scared of it.
And second, a Word on the WOOD STOVE in the FAMILY ROOM:
Colin is also scared of that.
With Bear-bo safely back in his arms, I knew I still couldn’t trust that he wouldn’t get out of bed – AGAIN! And it wasn’t looking promising. So I put the nail in the coffin and hammered it home, so to speak. “If you get out of this bed One. More. Time, I’m going to put you in a time out,” I said, in a quiet kind of whispery voice for effect. “In the family room. In the dark. With no lights. By yourself. Alone.”
Yeah, I said it.
And then I felt like a grade A arsehole. (But he didn’t get out of bed again.)
What mean things have you said or done during bedtime frustration?