One of the most reliably contentious moments between us happens at bedtime. I imagine (hopefully) that something similar occurs in most households with single digit age children. The basic tenets are the same for most families, I think. Parents want the kids to go to sleep so they can do anything but clean up messes, answer questions and mediate conflicts. The kids want to stay awake where all the action is. Invariably, the nighttime routine becomes increasingly complicated as parent and child vie for precious minutes, with a variety of techniques being employed on both sides (stalling, threats, fits, flat out lies, coddling, bargaining, etc.).
|Kiddie potty on the left, dregs beers on the right.|
The other night I was 25 minutes into Ben's night time routine and I was starting to lose it. My wife Erin and I have somehow wordlessly agreed that she lays with him while I tell our daughter, Claire, a story. Then, when she says goodnight for the final time and closes his door, I intercept him each time he gets up crying and turns on the light to try and open the door and leave his room. Sometimes he'll get up once, but usually it takes me 4+ attempts to get him to stay in bed and eventually fall asleep. This night, I had been basically standing at his door or forcing him to lay down while he screamed for close to a half hour. I had gone into his room for the tenth or eleventh time and decided to give in and lay with him. As I was laying there humming to him I heard a gurgling sound. I piqued my ears to hear it again and sure enough, 30 seconds later the gurgle vibrated my eardrums. I couldn't help but smile as I rubbed Ben's back and willed him to sleep. I've been fermenting my two dregs beers on a high shelf in his closet-it was the only place in the house that something (kids, temperature, dog, movement) wouldn't disturb them. Their check valves were calling back and forth to one another, singing a calming lullaby to me, and reminding me to step away from the ledge and relax. By the time these thoughts had finished forming in my mind, Ben was asleep. I crept out quietly and closed the door, not wanting to disturb the uncommon peace that had formed within