Crime and Punishment
There’s this rule that my husband Allan and I have about bedtime. It goes something like this: You can do just about anything you want to do after you’re all tucked in and kissed goodnight…as long as it’s in your bedroom and it’s done QUIETLY. So if you want to have a party? Have a party in your room QUIETLY. You want to sing some opera? Sing some opera in your room QUIETLY. You want to run a marathon? Run a marathon in your room QUIETLY.
Emma and Kyra know this rule like they know the “Don’t wear Mommy’s six-inch leather boots while walking up and down stairs” rule. VERY WELL. And still, they have to test it every ten years which, by the way, is equivalent to approximately four grown-up days.
The test goes something like this: Mommy and Daddy are sitting on the couch watching The Iron Chef when suddenly we hear what sounds like hip-hop music. We are in the TV room down in the basement. The children are supposed to be in their beds, snoring into their pillows (or singing some quiet opera, if they prefer) which are located two floors above us. So if we hear what sounds like bass guitar riffs and beatboxing way down in the basement, you can only imagine what racket it sounds like upon entering their bedroom.
It’s a party. Strobe lights. A mosh pit. Fake IDs and that skunky scent of good times in the air.
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. But BARELY.
Lights were on. Kyra was stuck in a dresser drawer singing an aria albeit NOT QUIETLY. Emma had launched into a stand-up comedy routine whereby she sounded like she was attempting to imitate Michael Jackson by way of Fran Drescher. There was banging and jumping. Thumping and bumping. And now there was a deer-in-the-headlights look on their faces as the reality of the situation had set in. They were SO busted. Such surprise on their faces, too. It was like, “Mom and Dad weren’t in Siberia after all?! OMG, I totally thought the Yeti had gotten them!!”
Allan, in his magnanimity, put the girls in time-out. And then, because Daddy is tired of doing this routine every four days, told Emma (the older of the two) that as of tomorrow she would be moving out. From now on, her new digs would be in the storage room. As an aside, the storage room is called The Spare Bedroom when you aren’t getting punished.
Emma and Kyra are eleven months fifteen days and a couple of minutes apart. They are like each other’s daemon and, as such, don’t like to be apart by more than a few feet or for more than a few minutes. So this punishment seemed cruel and unusual. TO ME.
Emma, on the other hand, didn’t know why she had to wait until “tomorrow.” She was ready to move to the storage room NOW, people, NOW.
Allan began to wonder what the hell just happened. There was, after all, STORAGE STUFF in the spare bedroom. Not to mention the fact that he anticipated Emma’s excitement much the way Emma and Kyra anticipated getting caught. But it was too late. He couldn’t undo the “punishment.” Not now that it was uttered and heard and accepted as Gospel Truth.
So he made her get the sleeping bag, and her pillow and Teddy and find a place to make a pallet amongst our photo albums, linens, old suits and cobwebs. She did. And then she slept like the baby that she is.
Kyra wasn’t too upset, either. She went back to singing her opera QUIETLY until she’d sang herself deep into a state of REM. By morning, she was already referring to this newly emptied space as “mine.” Meanwhile, we were still wondering what to do about this “punishment” situation. Actually, there was plenty of punishment. Unfortunately, it was FOR US. If Emma didn’t cry UNCLE soon, we’d be forced to clean out the The Storage Room and start calling it “Emma’s Nice Little Boudoir.” We’d have to buy a dresser. Replace the raggedy-old mini-blinds. Roll up the sleeping bag. Take her bed and MOVE it.
Luckily, though, I married a brilliant man. Or maybe just a habitually BETTING man. Either way, he’s a FORTUNATE man. He pulled Kyra aside and had a sit-down with our three-year-old. “Kyra,” he said. “Do you want Emma to sleep in your room?”
She considered this question thoughtfully. “Yes,” she finally said, like she was accepting a counter offer on a very lucrative real estate deal.
“Then why don’t you ask her if she’ll come back and sleep in her bed.”
And because the gods were shining down pure love and goodness upon us, Emma agreed with this arrangement.
So now we don’t have to clean cobwebs and contemplate where to move the old suits and linens while proceeding to reward our little angels for so blatantly ignoring the BE QUIET AT BEDTIME rule.
As for the upstairs partying? It seems to be permanently squelched. But we all know what the word “permanent” means to a three- and four-year-old… I’m thinking a week, give or take three days?
What are some of your bedtime challenges with your children?