I spent years teaching my kids to be clear about what they want, nurturing their creative streaks, and encouraging them to make sure their voices are heard.
But just not after 7pm.
Once we go through the drawn-out bedtime routines x2, I want them to immediately close their eyes, fall asleep, and not wake up until it’s time to come down for breakfast the next day.
Is that too much to ask?
They seem to think so.
After weeks of them leaving bed to tell me Very Important Things, such as “I think I want to wear a dress to school tomorrow” and “Did you know that Jason has 29 Wii games?” I put my foot down.
No one is to leave their rooms unless they had a nightmare or are bleeding profusely from the head.
Please, for the love of all that is reasonable, Just Leave Me Alone once I tuck you in.
This tactic had pretty much been working. I felt listened to.
It was weird.
Recently, I was looking under my son’s bed and discovered some notebook paper.
The first few sheets had drawings of Phineas and Ferb and a list of whom he wants to invite to his seventh birthday party. Seems he’s been doodling at night instead of bugging me.
Then I found a sheet with a single sentence on it: “I’m afraid of the dark.”
Who has 2 thumbs and feels like The Worst Mom Ever?
–> THIS GIRL <–
This Little Scrap of Guilt made me doubt my decision to put my foot down. I wanted to grab him, cover him in kisses, find my old Bjorn, carry him everywhere I go, start cutting his food up in dust-particle-sized morsels and protect him from the world.
It made me wonder, am I being a Poopyhead for wanting my kids to get the sleep they need and let me get a break from them each night?
Or is it a good thing for him to learn to face his fears?
Is this what people call Growing Pains? Are we both supposed to feel them when they happen?
Instead of trying to swaddle a first grader, I snuck an extra nightlight into his room, and told him that if he ever feels scared of the dark, to leave his bedroom light on.
I hate that he was scared, but am proud that he was brave.
(Also? I love that he’s letting me get some muthuhlovin’ sleep at night.)
Now I need to be the brave one.
Brave enough to keep standing my ground.
Brave enough to lay in the dark knowing that in the next room there’s a sweet boy fighting the shadows all on his own.
Brave enough to face whatever growing pains we’ll go through next.
Even if that means I have to write a note of my own to tuck under the bed.