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?”
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.”
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.