Any time we have a babysitter for the evening we are reminded that we have a bit of a complicated bedtime routine around here.
It’s not difficult, but there are a lot of steps to it, and when written out it can look a little bit… daunting. I’m sure I’ve written about it on here before, but the gist of it is: “Doot-Doots,” sippy cups of milk, teeth-brushing, “night-nights” in the mirror, spelling their names on their bedroom door, bedtime prayers, hugs and kisses all around, with all sorts of silly little details smooshed in and around all of the aforementioned steps.
Because our boys are such creatures of habit, we find that honoring their routine as much as possible leads to bedtimes that are generally pretty drama-free. So, we keep doing it. All of it.
Anyhow, for a long time now, the final step before I leave the room is a little bit of whispered “talking about our day” that I engage in with Tucker (who just turned four years old) after my wife leaves and Coltrane (nearing 2 years old) lays down to sleep (usually).
We talk about what we did that day, who we saw that day, what was our favorite part of the day, etc. In addition we talk about what sorts of things we might have in store for the next day and days ahead. It’s a really nice little moment of calm in a day that can sometimes feel like living with two small tornadoes, and probably my favorite part of the whole routine.
But if you’ve ever met Tucker, you know one absolute truth about him: the boy can talk. And talk. And talk.
After a while, I was starting to see that our little bedside chats were really going too long. Sometimes we’d talk too much and it would wake up (or keep up) little Coltrane. Other times I simply had stuff I needed to get done. And of course I worried about setting a precedent of really long talks that would be a hard habit to break from the routine if needed some day.
Inevitably, Tucker would intentionally stall my leaving, by asking question after question after question.
I started warning him when he was almost “out of questions” for the night, so he could really think about what he wanted to say. Then he’d ask the same sort of final question, generally about whether the swimming pool at our apartment was going to be open or not. Ah, summer, I miss thee.
One night, recently, after I told him he could ask one more question, and he said “Okay, well, maybe we can go swimming tomorrow if the pool is open.”
“No, the pool is closed for the fall, Tucker. Well, goodnight, sweet dre–”
“No, I still have a question!”
“I told you, only one more question. That was it.”
“That wasn’t a question. It was a statement!”
Needless to say, I had to start rewording my “warning” to say “you can ask one more question, or make one more statement.”
Still, he tries to stall me and trick me into letting him ask more.
“But tonight I have two questions, and two statements!” he bemoaned the other day, as is becoming part of the routine.
“Well, you’ll have to save them until morning,” I said, like I now do almost every night. “You can only ask one more question, or make one more statement. What’s it going to be?”
“A question,” he replied, sticking with the usual script.
“Okay, what’s your question?”
“Weeeeeell… the first part of my question is–”
“Wait wait wait. ‘First part’?” I asked. This was new.
“Yes. It’s a two-part question, Dada.”
What’s the bedtime routine like in your home? Do you have a favorite part?