Bedtime — it’s where the magic happens

By Mir
January 16, 2008

Every piece of family advice I’ve ever read (all two of them) suggests that bedtime is the right place to reconnect with your loved ones. Everyone’s a little sleepy and has maybe let their guard down, and no matter how the day went, this is your final note to be held onto until you can start all over again in the morning.

Lord knows I TRY to make bedtime harmonious around here, but often it’s late and the kids are screwing around and my patience is done and the whole thing is a hurried, cranky affair.

And don’t even get me started on my and Otto’s bedtime. I’m one of those people whose mind starts whirring a mile a minute as soon as I lie down to rest, so he’s asking how my day was or trying to get a little friendly and I’m all, “You know, I think I have a conference call next week with that person whose number I scribbled on a gum wrapper two months ago. Also, I think now would be an excellent time to freak out over the cost of the orthodontia we’ll be paying for in five years, don’t you?”

My family. Sooooooo lucky!

So last night was no exception. First Monkey was losing his ever-lovin’ mind because we finally replaced his ratty old quilt with a brand new one, courtesy of his birthday and my mom (thanks, Mom!). The new one has soccer balls all over it. This is VERY EXCITING. So rather than just getting into bed and lying down and being tucked in, he had to run through every possible scenario. What if the soccer balls popped off the quilt in the night? What if he woke up in a veritable ball pit of soccer balls? What if he couldn’t sleep, could he get up and play soccer? WHAT IF THE QUILT WAS JUST ONE BIG GIANT SOCCER BALL, MAMA, HAHAHAHAHA THAT WOULD BE SO FUNNY!

Eventually I just found that stylish sweatband I bought him for—what else?—soccer, and gagged him with it.

I was finally able to leave him, and came upon Chickadee emerging from the bathroom. “Did you wash your hands?” I asked, because other than “take your finger out of your nose,” that’s the question most-often overheard in our house. (Washing your hands is either utterly forgettable or terribly difficult, apparently, and I am afraid to ask my children which they assume it is.)

Back into the bathroom she went. She washed, then turned and WALKED RIGHT PAST THE HAND TOWELS to go wipe her hands on her brother’s bath towel.

I believe there is a gene which makes people unable to see hand towels, even hand towels which are directly in front of them. It’s like the gene for colorblindness. Towelblindness! My children have this gene. I shall warn their future spouses.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” I found myself asking, in a voice that was louder than just talking, though not really loud enough to be shouting. “That is your BROTHER’s showering towel. The hand towels are RIGHT THERE! If HE did that to YOUR towel, you would have a COW.” She stopped and gave me A Look. But I was on a roll. “THAT’S RIGHT, MISSY, a COW. And possibly several sheep. AND A GOAT!”

“What…? What do you mean, Mama?”

“I mean you’d be so angry, you would spontaneously gestate and give birth to livestock. GO TO BED.”

I followed her into her bedroom, where I found her Tae Kwon Do uniform and the clothes she’d worn that day strewn about the floor, hurricane-style. I freaked. Because that’s excellent parenting.

“CHICKADEE! I’m sure I could be MORE ANNOYED right now, but I’m not sure HOW. How many times do I have to ask you to pick up your things? HOW HARD IS IT TO TAKE YOUR STUFF TO THE HAMPER? This is… just… well, I’ve had it. The next time I find stuff on the floor like this, I think I’m just going to take it away, end of discussion.”

“I’m sorry, Mama,” she said in a small voice, scrambling to pick up her things.

“Okay,” I sighed. “Just go take care of that stuff and get into bed.” She ran off to the bathroom with her laundry. I waited. And waited. And waited some more. “CHICKADEEEEEEEE!!!!”

“Coming!” She scurried back into the room and fairly dove into bed. “Mama?”

“Yes, honey?”

She was burrowed under the covers, only the top half of her face showing, her mouth hidden. So her words were slightly muffled. “Do you know how you said you could be more annoyed, but probably not…?”

“Yes, honey. I’m sorry, it’s okay.”

“So, um, Mama? Did YOU have a cow?”

“Did I… oh! Ha! Well, maybe. Yes, I suppose I did. I’ll call her Bessie!”


“Yes, yes, okay. That’s very nice. Go to sleep.”

“Okay, Mama.”

We said our good nights and our love you!s and all of that, and I pulled her door shut behind me and started down the stairs. I was halfway down when I heard her calling, and as I came back up, I realized she was on her way down.

“Chickie, I am NOT IN THE MOOD FOR THIS, you need to GO TO BE—”

“Mama, you forgot your sheep,” she interrupted. “And the goat. And they were being LOUD,” she told me, primly, pantomiming shooing them down the stairs. “You need to take them down with you.”

“Uh, ooooookay. Yes. Fine. PLEASE go to bed.”

“Okay. Oh no!” She pointed down the stairs, behind me. “The goat fell. Please make sure he’s okay. Bandage up his leg, I think he’s hurt.”

And that is how my daughter went to bed and I started off my evening as a medic to an invisible goat.

The rest of the evening passed uneventfully, and around 10:30 Otto and I decided to retire for the night. I went into my bathroom and began my nighttime routine: Change into pajamas, stare into the mirror for a while and pluck any errant eyebrow hairs, wash my face and dab on the acne ointment I keep in the drawer, and then on to brushing my teeth.

I have a wire basket sitting on my counter with all of my STUFF in it. You know, moisturizers, hair products, deodorant, nail polish, etc. This basket came to us as a gift and I just started using it when we moved in here, and because the bottom is a wire lattice, one of the EXTRA SPECIAL BONUS FEATURES of said basket is that if you don’t put items down JUST SO, they fall over because the bottom is uneven. And when they fall over, they knock over EVERYTHING ELSE, because everything else was placed JUST SO and basically, it is a big basket of dominoes shaped like personal hygiene items.

I’ve mentioned to Otto a couple of times (though not for a while) that I should really put something IN the basket as a more stable bottom, so that I can actually keep stuff tidy in there. To date my coping method has more or less been that half my crap is in a heap in the basket, and the things that I’d rather not fall over (like, say, glass perfume bottles) are scattered all over the counter to keep them upright.

I keep my toothbrush and toothpaste in that basket, and so it came to pass that I’d already been in the bathroom a good fifteen minutes or so when I reached for my toothbrush and realized that there was a perfectly-sized piece of wood in the bottom of the basket, and all of my toiletries had been neatly lined up inside, stable on the new, flat bottom.

“AWWWWWW!” I called, coming out of the bathroom to give Otto a hug. He accepted my hug but looked a little concerned. “You put a bottom in my basket! Thank you!”

It’s such a little thing, yet so indicative of who he is. I was TOUCHED, y’all. Touched by a piece of wood. Yes.

“You’re welcome,” he said.

“You even lined up all my stuff!”

“Oh, well, Chickadee helped with that part. And I sanded the edges for you, too, so that you won’t get splinters!”

“YOU MUST REALLY LOVE ME!” I cried, hugging him again.

“Yes,” he said. Then: “Or I just really hate splinters.”

And that was the end of our touching moment. I think I heard it hit the floor with a small but sickening thud.

“I mean,” he hastened on, “I really DO love you, and I ALSO hate splinters!”

“Whatever,” I grumbled, heading back to my bathroom to rearrange my hair products.

It was no good, though. The goat had already eaten all of my finishing creme.


  1. All Adither

    That Chickadee is creative with her bedtime stalling techniques.

    And Otto? What a nice, nice man.

  2. daysgoby

    He and she?

    Getting to be quite the duo, aren’t they?

  3. Genevieve

    LOVE this. Otto is a totally thoughtful dude. Some men might do that, after being asked on the spot and reminded to do it then, specifically. Few men would not only remember on their own but then go and do it on their own, and sand it to protect your beloved tender fingers from splinters (the best way to interpret his last comment — he hates splinters because they CAUSE YOU PAIN and he loves you too much to see that happen). :)

    And your kids are so frickin’ hilarious. And good stallers. Chickie has a good way of taking humor to defuse any lingering anger/annoyance.

  4. Megan

    Who – who says bonding happens at bedtime? Those darn family experts must not have children that’s all I can say. Our bedtime (and I have EARNED this haven dammit) is now me heading into my room, shutting the door firmly and hollering “don’t forget to pickupyourcrapturnoffthelightsbrushyourteeth I LOVE you!” I bond lots in the mid afternoon though when I lovingly nag them about homework and inform them that guppies would be less expensive and wouldn’t leave dirty socks on the floor.

  5. The Mom Bomb

    Tears of jealousy are streaming down my face over your sensitive, MacGyver-like spouse.

  6. Deb

    Your evenings sound like mine. Then I am super sad because I feel like we end the days wrong and I end up going back in to hug my son.

    And your daughter has a wonderful imagination. I love reading your blog, it brings a smile to my face and makes me realize others go through the same thing daily.

  7. Tammy

    How did you keep a straight face while she was shooing the sheep and goat down the stairs? I would have cracked for sure. And I totally empathize with you on the whole bedtime thing. If you give a mouse a cookie…

  8. cursingmama

    Sounds remarkably like the kind of crap that goes on at my house only without the touching moment where I think maybe I’m loved.

  9. MomCat

    Next you need to tell Chickadee that she “got your goat” and she what she comes up with. That girl is funny! (like her mama)

  10. Daisy

    I love Chicky. Turning you into a medic for a goat before bedtime — gotta love her. What will she do if you accuse her of pulling your leg?

  11. Sharkey

    Your children, they are little Mirs. I can’t wait until they start their own blogs.

  12. Aimee

    LOL! Chickadee is too funny. And that Otto! So thoughtful!

  13. Aimee

    Oops — I hit enter before I was done. I meant to add that I think little things like that — putting a bottom in your toiletry basket, are THE most romantic. Flowers are nice and all, but I’d rather have real-world thoughtfulness, like the way my husband will remember to put my phone in my work bag when I’ve charged it overnight, even though I *always* forget it.

  14. Sheila

    Could Otto BE any cuter? We all forgive him the splinter comment, due to his extreme thoughtfulness.

    Also? “Touched by a piece of wood” is going to give you some great Google hits. (I’m like an adolescent. Can’t help it.)

  15. Bob

    so – you’re the only one in the house allowed to be snarky?

    If I allowed sarcasm to ruin “the moment” there would be no moments in my life. I am married to the master. sounds like you’re married to her apprentice.

  16. Katie

    Your bedtimes are my mornings in reverse. I really don’t know what bedtimes are like here because my head usually explodes around dinner time.

    Kudos to Otto, he’s the awesomest.

  17. Kristi

    Oh Dear God, you guys! You should consider a family stand-up comedy routine. Go on tour. Have your own reality show maybe!

  18. jennielynn

    I am so glad I am not the only one who has the occasional bedtime melt-down. I actually told Drama Queen that if she rolled her eyes at me one more time, I would pluck them out and eat them with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Her response?

    “Niiiice imagery, Mom. Kiss your kids with that mouth?”

    And yes, the eyeballs were delicious. Cracked pepper would have been nice though.

  19. Jamie AZ

    Aww, such a sweet Otto! And Chickadee is a hoot!

  20. Sarcomical

    i’m exactly the same way! i almost went into a panic the other night because i thought we REALLY needed to repaint the upstairs loft, like NOW. my brain gets a bit whirrrr-y at night.

  21. Tootsie

    The wood? About the sweetest thing ever! I’m also a middle of the night mind reeler. And hand-wringer.

  22. Headless Mom

    Like Katie, my head usually explodes around dinner time. But it’s nice to know that other moms vocal cords get a work out in the evenings, too.

  23. Burgh Baby's Mom

    I need a Chickadee around me to help remind me that the cow I just had really needs put back in its place. You really have got to love a kid that listens to what you say well enough to use it against you.

  24. elizabeth

    Chickadee is too funny. now way I could have kept at straight face thru that. Otto is a doll too. splinters or not.

  25. Kris

    I was touched by a piece of wood once. Then I gestated and gave birth to a cow…or small human…or something.

  26. TC

    Heh. N is getting a new quilt (well, comforter) for HIS birthday, from MY mother. His is Spongebob.

  27. Summer

    You pluck your eyebrows every night? I’m impressed. No wonder you’re so pretty! If I had the same habit, it wouldn’t be such a crisis that my neighborhood nail shop burned down before Christmas. Yup, I’m totally blaming my current Bert-brow on that electrical fire.

  28. tammy

    If you could you please refrain from using the word “gestate” in your entries for the next couple of weeks, some of your devoted fans would very much appreciate it.

    Give the goat some invisible carrots for me.

  29. angelfeet

    Mommies all over the world, trying to find way of NOT SHOUTING at bedtime. Trying, and failing.It reassures me that I’m not alone (although livestock isn’t usually mentioned).

  30. saucygrrl

    I forget, is the traditional first wedding anniversary present paper or wood???? ;)

  31. Stephany

    My child is having a bedtime meltdown right now. Upstairs. With his father. I’m down here typing messages to complete strangers on the internet. All I need now is a glass of red wine and some dark-chocolate-covered nuts. And possibly a foot-rub.

    How old is Chickadee? I’m waiting for the witty banter stage to emerge…

  32. Amy S.

    Holy cow (no pun intended)…have you been spying into my house? Your bedtime is IDENTICAL to ours (except substitute the frenzied discussion about soccer balls with a frenzied discussion about Webkinz or animals in general).

  33. Julie Stiles Mills

    (excuse me – off topic) Stephany – red wine and dark chocolate nuts? I’m going to visit your blog! What about red wine and sharp cheddar cheese (on Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuits).

    As far as bedtime? I can relate. When the kids work together against us we call it “swimming down” (a Finding Nemo reference – I’ve got to blog about that someday.)

    Anyway, the Pachelbel Bedtime on youtube is the BEST! Makes me laugh, makes me cry.

  34. Kari

    I’m new to your blog….Does Chickadee happen to be around 7 years old? Because a lot of that last post was veeeery familiar to me.

    Thanks, I love your blog!

  35. Vane

    Haha … sounds an awful lot like our bedtime, is good to know I’m not the only one :)

  36. Lia

    Sigh. My hubby is also towel-blind. I hid my bath towel in a hard-to-get-to place so it won’t be used as a hand towel and I put another in its place to fake him out. Now he just uses the ‘pretend’ bath towel and harmony is restored.

    But he is Otto-like in that he does the little things so I’d rather move my bath towel than not have him.

  37. MaryP

    “I mean you’d be so angry, you would spontaneously gestate and give birth to livestock. GO TO BED.”

    Oh, Mir. I wish I could write like that. Only not today. It hurts when I laugh so hard. *hack, cough, wheeze* Ow.

  38. Cele

    I’m thinking Chickee is going to grow up into her mother’s choice of writer – they have the same way with wit and words.
    Otto on the other hand is an absolute keeper.

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