The word rolls off your tongue like honey.
And, just like honey, getting the children to sleep can be a sticky situation.
Jade leaves the house to get the mini-van / family van / mom mobile / chick magnet mucked out and I whistle for the kids’ attention. They both slam on the brakes of their tricycles and Rory holds up his hand as though he’s about to strike a bargain… the same bargain that he tries to strike every day, every night, everything, everywhere, “Five more minutes.”
It’s a decent grace period and it works out well for all of us so, before he can speak a word, I say, “Five more minutes.” Now it’s a gift from me to him and not something that he weaseled away.
Both kids turn and place their feet back on the pedals, spending the following 360 seconds spinning in circles. I finish the load of dishes I’m doing by hand (what year is this??!) and shout, “NAP TIME!” and Rory says, “NO!” and I say, “Yep,” and then walk away. Twenty seconds later they both come tearing into their bedroom and, so they don’t try to pull this one over on me once they’ve been tucked in, I say, “Do you have to go potty?” and, strangely, no part of me cringes using that ‘P’ word. It’s become part of my vernacular. In fact, I even use it when talking about myself from time to time in social settings.
Quinn goes to the bathroom but Rory skips out, instead using his additional half a minute to meticulously line his trains up, back to back to back, which he must do before beginning his next task, whatever it be; bed, dinner, breathing. Quinn flushes the toilet and I follow her into the bedroom where I find Rory standing on the humidifier. I tell him to get down and, “Don’t stand on that; it’s not a toy,” and he says, “I was standing on that,” and I say, “I know. Don’t,” and he jumps into bed under the covers.
I tuck them both in, give them their kisses and say, “If you stay in bed and don’t get up and DO go to sleep – then when you wake up, you’ll get a piece of candy AND we’ll go to the park, okay?” and they both say, “Okay,” so I give them one more kiss, ruffle their hair and walk away… and I’m not even at the end of the hall when I hear them both jumping on the bed and laughing.
So I turn around and walk back down the hallway and just before I open the door, I suspect they hear my boots on the floor because I hear them both DROP onto the bed and I hear the quick SWISH of covers and when I open the door they both have their eyes closed, feigning sleep.
Quinn slowly opens her and says, “We sleepin'” and I say, “Yeah, I heard you sleepin’. Go to sleep,” and then I shut the door and walk away. I sit down in front of the computer and do the first thing that every parent does when their kids go to sleep… I get on Facebook. Three posts into my social media binge, I hear the baby gate (which is worthless because they can now open it) swing on its’ hinges and Rory says, “Daddy… I have to go pee,” and, since he’s potty trained and doesn’t wear diapers anymore and only wears pull-ups at night, I get up and take him to the toilet and say, “I asked you, do you remember?” and he says, “I’m peein’!”
Shut the lid, wash the hands, pull up the pants and, “Daddy, my pants are wet,” and I ask, “Did you wet your pants?” and he says, “No,” and I say, “Why are your pants wet?” and, like he does when he either doesn’t understand the question or simply doesn’t want to answer it, he just repeats his original statement but with a little more emphasis. “My paaants are weeeet,” and then he makes a noise that sounds like an owl coughing and I assume this is his version of a whine.
Take off the pants, take off the underwear, put them in the laundry, get him back to the room and find Quinn standing on top of the humidifier. “Don’t stand on that! Get down! Get in bed!” My demands are coming in quick, staccato bursts. “Bed! Covers! Sleep!”
ABOVE: I GIVE HIM A PERFECT ’10’ ON HIS FIGURE 4.
They both crawl into bed and something glistening on the floor catches my eye. “What is that?” and Rory looks at the puddle of clear whatever-it-is and says, “Rory took this and drank it!” and he points to the humidifier and it’s only now that I notice that the water jug that attaches to it has been placed back in upside down.
I squat by the device and say, “Did you… did you… drink out of this?” and he says, “Yeah, Rory drink out of that and make mess,” and I say, “Ah… oh-kay. I’m going to go get a towel. You get in bed,” and I leave and when I return Rory is playing with his trains and I say, “You need to go to sleep,” and he says, “I need to play with trains.”
I mop up the water, flip the jug around, turn the humidifier on, get Rory in bed with his trains, tuck Quinn in, kiss them both, ruffle their hair, dim the lights, mumble something about the park, shut the door and walk away and then I hear a thunk-thunk-thunk but, instead of going back, I decide to take things to The Next Level.
I don’t like going here but it’s necessary when the little ones simply won’t listen to reason.
We have a baby monitor that hangs near their ceiling and looks down on them, sort of resembling a giant black eye and, since it looks so weird and scary, they are, understandably, afraid of it. Also, it’s remote controlled so I can move it around, which they really don’t like. Also, it has a voice feature so I can talk through it, which they really, really hate.
I walk into our bedroom, pick up the monitor and watch them for a minute or two, giving them, what I feel, is a fair amount of grace period to do as I’ve asked them three times.
I watch as Rory stands on the humidifier and uses it as a step to get into bed, where he leaps from his mattress, onto the floor. Thunk! And then Quinn follows suit. Thunk! And then Rory stands back on the humidifier and jumps. Thunk. Quinn stands on the humidifier, preparing for her second jump.
I lean forward and press my finger against the key with the microphone picture on it and say, “Get. Off. That.” And Rory lunges under his blanket like a rabbit into its hole, covering his head and toes and Quinn drops like the Rapture has hit her and lies completely still, staring at the eye of Sauron without blinking.
I say, “Go. To. Sleep.” and she shuts her eyes and rolls over and pulls the blanket over her head.
I haven’t heard a noise since.