Sunday, December 13, 2015

Bedtime Rituals

One night last week - one of the nights Ken was out of town - I put all three kids to bed.  It was the usual bedtime ritual.  All three kids know it:  Pajamas.  One bedtime story.  One TV show (Mother Goose Club, Dora, Diego, or Doc McStuffins usually) with something to drink and a treat.  Brushing teeth.  Then, finally, to bed. 
“Tucking-in” is a mini-ritual within the bedtime ritual.  These days it usually involves Margot choosing which of her "babies" will sleep with her and Flynn deciding if he'll have a stuffed friend in bed with him or if he’ll simply throw it on the floor.  Coco gets into bed and waits patiently to be tucked in.  (By the way, all three kids are now officially in the same room with three twin beds all lined up in a row.  How that finally came to be is another post.)  Then there is finally the actual tucking in and multiple good-night kisses for everyone.  Flynn is the most intentional about good night kisses.  You lean down to give him a kiss and he's looking up at you waiting for it, and then he reaches up, grabs your head, pulls it down and gives you a big sloppy two-year-old-kiss right on the lips.  It cracks me up every time.
With all three kids tucked into bed I went downstairs to work for a while before going to bed myself.  Not more than a few minutes after I sat down in the dining room to work, I heard steps coming down the stairs.  Then into the dining room came all three kids.  I turned and looked at them standing in the doorway.  All three of them appearing at the same time is a new phenomenon.  It felt a bit like the arrival of a delegation of sorts, kind of like <and say this part in an official announcer-like voice> "The Delegation Representing Upstairs has arrived, sir."  I gave them my best raised-eyebrows, head tilted, questioning, "why are you up" look. 
Coco, as the speaker on behalf of The Delegation Representing Upstairs (which makes sense since she is the only Delegate who can speak in complete sentences), said, "Margot and Flynn want to sleep in my bed with me." 
"No.  Everyone needs to sleep in their own bed," I said.
"But they want to sleep in my bed."
"Well, they can't.  Now everyone needs to go to bed."
So I took them all back upstairs.  I tucked in Margot and I tucked in Flynn with all the necessary good-night kisses -- including the reach-grab-and-pull kiss from Flynn.  I turned to Coco who was sitting on her bed, not looking like she was going to sleep anytime soon. 
"Okay,” I said to her.  “Margot and Flynn can sleep in your bed.  But only after I leave.  And I don't want to hear any running around up here.  Okay?"  I turned and went back downstairs.
Minutes later The Delegation Representing Upstairs arrived again.  I turned and gave Coco my best "why are you downstairs this time?" look.
Then she said to me, “You didn’t tuck me in.”  And she burst into tears.  They were not boo-hoo-hoo for-sympathy tears.  They were honest to goodness “and you really hurt my feelings” tears.
I did not see that coming.  I had, in fact, not tucked her in.  I had violated our bedtime ritual.  So, I knelt in front of my crying little girl and gave her a big hug and a kiss.  “I’m so sorry, pun’kin.  I didn’t tuck you in because I thought you were waiting for me to leave so you could get Margot and Flynn into your bed with you.  I’m really sorry.  And I’m really glad you came downstairs to tell me you were upset.”  She stopped crying and gave me a hug back. “It’s okay, Daddy,” she said softly, sniffing just a bit. 
Sometimes a child can break your heart and warm your heart at the very same time.  
So I took The Delegation Representing Upstairs back upstairs, tucked them in – all three of them – and told them a story about a dragon that was the friendliest dragon you would ever meet, who stopped at a village for drink of water from the fountain in the square, fell asleep and scared all the villagers until three little children named Coco, Margot and Flynn came out and woke up the dragon and introduced themselves.  They become the best of friends.  The End.  

Princess Rule #18 
Always hang your tiara on your headboard
when you go to bed at night.
One never knows when one might have need of
its magical powers.
Margot and Flynn before their move from cribs to big-kid beds.