My children are partners in crime to the Nth degree. The flip side of the times when they pick and nudge at each other until I’m shrieking “NO! ONE! TOUCH! ANYONE! ELSE!” is that occasionally they manage to figure out that they can band together. Against the other people in the house.
Oh, that’s right. I’m the only other people (okay, person) in the house.
And as is not at all uncommon amongst this age set, their very favorite time to go running around all giggly with each other is when I am trying, for the love of all that is holy, to usher them along in getting ready for bed.
Hey, I used to do it all with them. They were little and needed the help. But now? They’re 7 and 9. There is no reason they should require supervision to change into their pajamas and wash up. NONE. Frankly, it’s just not that complicated.
But on a typical night, I announce that it’s time to get ready for bed. This is followed by one or both children asking if we will read together tonight. I answer (as always) that IF THEY GET READY QUICKLY we will have plenty of time to read.
“Okay Mama!” they shout. “We will!”
“Great!” I respond. “Let me know when you’re all done.”
Then they run upstairs and I clean up from dinner. And I end up shouting “Are you ready yet?” fifty seven times while they run back and forth between their rooms, whooping and laughing and sounding like a herd of elephants. Each time after I ask, their antics quiet to a dull roar for a nanosecond before they go back to… whatever it was they were doing.
And then later when we’re reading and they want another chapter and I say “No, it’s too late—you used up your time running around like wild beasts,” they cry.
It’s such a great system.
Now, Monkey actually has some processing trouble with multi-step directions, sometimes. So I thought maybe if I spelled it out a bit things would go better. (Why I thought this, when Chickadee clearly understands but simply DISREGARDS, is beyond me.) This led to me standing with my children on the stairs going over the expectations VERRRRRRRRY SLOOOOOOOWLY.
“Okay, you’re going to get ready for bed. THAT MEANS you will: Get into your pajamas. Put your clothes in the hamper. Brush your teeth. Use the toilet. And then tell me you’re ready to read. Got that?”
I made Monkey repeat it back. Chickadee rolled her eyes a bunch while he did. Then they scampered upstairs.
I cleaned up the dinner dishes. I asked if they were ready. Laughter erupted from upstairs. I told them I was coming up and they’d better get ready. I went into my bedroom and packed a box. I asked if they were ready. Chickadee came flying down the hall and handed me a piece of paper.
“We wanted to be sure we had it,” she told me, “so we wrote it down. Sort of.”
Here’s what the sheet she gave me said:
1) get in hamper
2) but first put toothpaste on clothes
3) brush the hamper
4) tell mom after you have suffered one year in the hamper
1) put clothes in hamper
2) brush teeth
3) brush hair
4) tell mom when done
5) run around like crazy chickens without heads!
I would like to state for the record, right here and now, that I am SO SCREWED when they are teenagers.