I don’t do bedtimes. A lot of parents talk about bedtime as some of the sweetest moments they have with their children – sharing stories, favorite books from their own childhoods, little good-night rituals.

Me, I am just violently allergic to the whole process. From getting my jeans wet kneeling beside the bathtub to wrestling my toddler into her PJs to reading Another F***ing Clifford Book to lying alone in the dark listening to the same soothing music night after night until my ears threaten to mutiny, bedtime fails to suit me.

Fortunately my girls have a Daddy who loves to read aloud and tell stories and listen to soothing music. He still reads aloud to his teenager on nights he can get away with it. He loves bedtime so much he spends three or four hours every night tucking our little ones in.

Unfortunately, said Daddy is about to leave town for a week. This is great for him, because he’s going to a work conference where he gets to show off the very impressive Science he’s been making all year. It’s kind of great for me because I get to be married to someone who makes very impressive Science.

It’s not great for bedtime.

Daddy recently began taking a Monday night drum class, and I put the girls to bed on those nights. Let’s just say I am not committing to four hours of baths, books and soft music every evening. I work the day shift with the kids; I write in the evenings or go mad. That’s just the way it is.

So this Monday, I said, “Hey girls. Bedtime is at 8:30. When that time comes, I am turning out the lights and leaving the room. If you want me to tuck you in and sing to you and tell stories, you need to get in bed early enough for that to happen.”

Can either of those children tell time? No. Were they nestled all sweet in their beds when the clock struck 8:30? No. Did I leave the room? Why, yes, yes I did.

I’m sure half of you are applauding me for sticking to my guns while the other half are probably echoing Rio’s sentiments when she shouted after me, “Mommy! You are such a bad Mommy for not taking care of us at all! Serena is a little tiny girl! She needs a grown-up to be with her!”

After about five minutes of violent protest, Rio curled up and fell asleep.

Serena, on the other hand, got out of bed and wandered downstairs. I put her back to bed. After a few rounds of this she came down very quietly and climbed into the arts cabinet. I pretended not to see her and carried on with my Adult Work (which at that point consisted of balancing my checkbook. Trust me kids, I’d have preferred listening to your nighttime CD again).

She fiddled around in the arts cabinet for awhile, and eventually climbed down very quietly with a small notebook and a marker. She sat at the crafts table coloring in a picture of a flower for about twenty minutes, then walked over and handed it to me. I took it, and she made the sign for sleep and reached out for my hand. She led me up the stairs to her bed, and signed that she’d like me to lie down with her. I did, telling her I’d be there for five minutes. She nodded, and lay very peacefully, curled up like a flower bud.

Until she chanced to roll halfway onto her stomach, at which point her half-concious body remembered that just a few hours earlier it had learned to somersault. She had to turn several sleepy somersaults before settling back down to sleep.

I’m not sure how the coming week will go, but this was certainly an entertaining start.

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