My daughter just turned thirteen, but because of her disabilities she’s much more immature than the average thirteen-year-old, and believe it or not, we are still struggling with bedtime.
Yes, thirteen years into this parenting gig, bedtime is still a struggle.
I know, I’m a failure at parenting in many ways, this is just the one I feel like talking about today.
Here’s a look at what bedtime is like at our house now:
1 “Elise, it’s time to get ready for bed.”
3 “Elise, today is just like yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. Bedtime is bedtime, let’s go.”
4 (5 minutes later) “Seriously, get in the bathroom and brush your teeth.”
5 “What’s taking you so long? What exactly besides brushing your teeth and going to the bathroom are you doing in there? It’s been fifteen minutes!”
6 Elise comes in for a hug, but then there’s the inevitable “Can’t I stay up just a little bit later?” No. No, you may not, because I know what happens next.
7 She goes upstairs for an hour of “night reading.” I don’t think that she is always reading up there, I am not sure what she is doing sometimes, organizing her socks, maybe, but I let her have her downtime before bed.
8 I go to the bottom of the stairs and tell her she has to go to bed now. “But mom, just a few more minutes?” No, no more minutes.
9 (15 minutes later) I’m back at the bottom of the stairs. “Elise, seriously, shut off the light!”
From the time I ask her to start getting ready for bed until the time she is upstairs can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to a half an hour, and I am not sure whether that is reasonable for a kid her age, or maturity level.
That’s the bullshit thing about this parenting gig — there is no manual that tells you what to do and how to do it right.
Or, there are hundreds of manuals, and it’s up to you to decide which one to try.
Then, you get judged for your decisions.
And around and around we go.
It’s been thirteen years.
I’ve tried everything I can think of to make bedtime a less painful time of day for us, but I’ve run the gamut between rewards and punishments and all I get is this same sequence of events, night after night.
Bedtime is a monotonous, hellish time for me, as I am sure it is for a lot of parents.
I don’t have any advice, really, except to not kill your kids when they annoy you.
I suppose that is really the best piece of advice any parent can be given.
Because when you get to the end of a tough day with your kids and all you want is for them to go hurry up and go to bed and they won’t — that’s hell.
It’s a special kind of slow burning hell that grates on your nerves and your soul like the physical manifestation of the sound of nails on a chalkboard.
I’d write a little more about this, but it’s bedtime.