Bedtime is a magical time for parents.
It is a land of snoring and silence. It is a place where lullabies live and bring peace to the world. It is freedom, it is happiness, it is anything I want it to be.
Or so it should be.
My three kids share a room right now. The perks of living in a two-bedroom apartment. And for the most part, it's not that bad. My kids are pretty active and mainly use the room for sleeping and storing their toys.
Their sleeping habits are pretty routine, well at least for two of them. I have an eight-year-old daughter and three-year-old twin boys. They are really amazing small humans and generally I feel pretty lucky to be their dad, but lately, one of my twins has decided that sleep is for losers.
Parenting strategy fails.
My wife and I take turns putting the kids to bed, but generally, the results are the same. The first two are asleep in ten minutes while the “hater of all things parents find fun”(or so I've dubbed him), flails around like a turtle stuck on its back.
It’s happening every night right now and while I know at some point he will outgrow it, I’m currently struggling to survive. If you have had a three-year-old nocturnal child then you know what I mean.
I have tried every idea I could think of to get him to fall asleep. I’ve tried leaving him in there alone, he just gets up, comes out the living room and asks to watch Disney channel. Dude, it’s hours past your bedtime, I don’t have the energy for Mickey and his friends.
I’ve even tried sitting in the room until he falls asleep. At first, that seemed like it would work. The thrashing had stopped and all was still. I slowly stood up, begging my knees to stop cracking(apparently I had been sitting motionless for some time).
I snuck towards the door when all of a sudden, out of the darkness something cool touches my leg. I stifle a scream, and I hear a small voice. “Daddy, I want chicy nuggits, peesa, bred sick, fren fries, punkeen bred”. He is kind of obsessed with certain foods.
Deep breaths, deep breaths, no need to freak out or cry.
“Not tonight, buddy. Get back in bed. It’s nigh-night time”.
I hear him scurry back to bed and climb in, luckily not waking the other two. I settle back into my seat waiting for one of us to pass out. Let's be honest, its probably going to be me.
This is my life now.
Sitting in the dark waiting for my kid to fall asleep. I might still be sitting here in the morning. It’s been two hours, will it ever end?
It’s not so much about a need for a specific bedtime for my kids. I’m not that kind of dad. It’s actually all about the afterparty. My wife and I need some alone time.
Finding time to be alone as parents can be tough and the best way is to sacrifice some sleep and stay up late together. It is an amazing feeling. We have the full range of our home without being stalked by child-shaped raptors from Jurassic Park.
We can eat all the snacks without having to share. I can pee by myself. We can watch whatever show we want. And if we are feeling really lucky we might even wake up enough to have sex. As I said, it's a P-A-R-T-Y.
All you parents out there know what I’m talking about.
My head fell forward and woke me up.
Where am I? It took me a minute to realize where I was. I sit still for a minute. He must be asleep now. I tiptoed out of the room closed the door and silently put my hands in the air. Victory.
I headed out to the living room and find my wife passed out on the couch. What time is it? 1 am. I guess the party is over. *sigh*
We can try again tomorrow. But unwilling to fully give in, I snuggled up with her and turned on some Brooklyn 99, trying to enjoy just a few minutes of that alone time feeling.
Three minutes later I hear a door close down the hall. I glance over to my nocturnal son smiling at me. “Daddy, I have su milk?”. Okay buddy, you win. I smile back. “Okay, dude lets get you some milk”.
So here I sit writing this on my phone. My wife is asleep beside me. My son is sitting on my lap watching Disney(yes, I caved) and drinking his milk, at 2 am.
And now, at this moment everything is perfect. I don’t care that my son is still awake, or that I have to be up in less than five hours. These unplanned moments feel special. I think I’ll remember it forever. It’s not the party I planned, but when I look around I wouldn't change a thing.