On a normal school night, bed time at our house is 9:00pm. Well, technically, it’s 8:30 to bed and the girls get 30 minutes of quiet reading time before being “tucked in”. At 11 and 13, they’ll try to battle from time to time about the appropriateness of our chosen “lights out”, but, as a parent, I much prefer a little combativeness before bed then when I’m trying to wake a couple of angry, crusty gila monsters in the morning.
The girls are on Spring Break this week, so we’ve obviously relaxed things a bit. For the first four or five days, we give them pretty free rein on policing when they’re tired, before easing them back into the routine on the last few nights. Last night, we were all sitting on the couch watching a little television. It was probably about 10:30, maybe even getting closer to 11:00, when CJ, the 11-year-old, walks over and whispers in my ear, “Dad… I think you should send us to bed.”
I whispered back to her while trying to keep our conversation out of earshot of her big Sister who was right on my other hip, “Bear… if you want to go to bed… go ahead and go.”
“No, send us to bed… pleeeease.”
Intrigued by the fact that a mini-social experiment was starting to unfold right in my family room, I motioned for her to go back to her seat with a wink and a nod. I waited about 90 seconds and then announced, “Alright girls, bed time.”
She looked over at me and quickly fought back a smile before forcing it into a scowl of chagrin.
“Awwww… Dad. Ok, well, come on GiGi… Dad says we have to go to bed,” she said giving a performance of disappointment that would get her a thumbs up from Meryl Streep.
A few minutes later when I made my way to her room for our nightly routine, she was already close to out cold. As I tucked her in and gave her a kiss, I said, “Sweetie, you know, you can just go to bed when you’re tired. You don’t have to wait for me to send you to bed.”
“I know, Dad,” she started before taking a break to yawn, “I just don’t want to miss anything good. I don’t want to waste any of my Spring Break sleeping unless I have to. Does that make sense?”
I smiled and said, “It’ll still be Spring Break tomorrow. I won’t let anything awesome happen without you.”
I gave her another kiss goodnight and left her to her slumber.
Kids are funny. No matter how tired they are. No matter how bored they get. No matter how amazing the idea of their head hitting the pillow sounds. No kid wants to go to bed on their own because they’re afraid they’ll miss something cool. For them, sleep is like wasting time. The world is going to be having a party that they’re going to miss because they went to bed. This whole “being a kid” thing is such a rip-off. They sleep through everything awesome.
They don’t know how good they have it. They don’t see how amazing the opportunity is. Every sane adult would leap at the chance to get a solid ten hours every night. When they’re older, they’ll appreciate it. They’ll see how crazy it would be to stay up just because they’re afraid they’ll miss something.
At 2:00am, after refreshing the browser on my four or five favorite websites for a couple of hours and finding nothing new to look at, it was time for me to head to bed myself…
I mean, it’s time…
I’ve been tired for hours and the alarm clock is going off pretty early…
Ok…. maybe one more time through…
I don’t want to miss anything.