Being a parent at the kid’s bedtime…it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Being a parent best time is the tale of two states of mind.
So, my experiences as a dad at bedtime have been frustration, confusion, hurt, betrayal, disrespect, desperation, fear, anger, sadness, disgust and the occasional weep.
“I won’t talk again” they said. “I won’t get out of bed again” they said. “This time I mean it” THEY SAID!
I would lie on their bedroom to ensure the talking and the getting out of bed would stop. Within about 10 minutes I would find myself asleep and waking up with a fright with one of my three children standing over me one sound asleep, and the other out in the loungeroom talking to mummy.
I tried making them go to their room all by themselves and I refused to lie on their bedroom floor, instead I would yell at them from the other end of the house until they came out of their room with the best collection of excuses you would ever hear. At that moment they pulled out excuses like, “I need to go to the toilet”, “I didn’t have dessert”, “I’m scared”, “he hit me”, “he’s not going to sleep”, “Daddy, I have something stuck up my nose”.
The best moment I had was a torturous bedtime where they were all mucking up so bad and tried every excuse under the sun until one of them tried to nuclear weapon of child excuses. “Daddy, I feel sick in the tummy”. Oh, what a sweet excuse that is. They thought they had me because they tried to play on my sympathetic emotions, I could not stand the thought of accusing them of lying just in case it was true. Also, how could I prove he was not sick in the tummy? What evidence could I use to back my cynicism, I mean other than every other untrue thing they told me before they resorted to “sick in the tummy” excuse?
This night I had had enough and he had pushed me too far…”Balderdash!” I called him out, “You are NOT sick and get back into bed NOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW.”
So about three minutes later I was changing bed sheets and cleaning up the vomit from the carpet, and the wall, and the windows, and somehow the ceiling and in the hallway. How the heck did he get his spew to tour corners into the hallway?
Then there was the “best of times”.
When I would lie on the floor and they would just start telling me about their day in ways that earlier they had just grunted or simply answered, “good”.
One of my favourite moments was a combined prayer time where one child prayed for Daddy to get a real “work job”, even suggesting in his prayers that I should work for Red Rooster. That led to the next brother thanking Jesus for nuggets, then the next child thanked Jesus for chips, and the next said a prayer for apple juice. My three boys prayed for mate’s rates for three kid’s meals with nuggets in the most creative way.
I loved playing a song to them while I lay on the floor, especially when one of them asked me to play the “Sausages song” before they went to sleep. It turns out that “Calling all the Messengers” in the Lecrae song had been heard as “cooking all the sausages”. Apparently, my boys thought about food a lot at bedtime.
It is the most special time as a Dad to walk into their bedroom when they are asleep and just stare at them, to look at them with love, appreciation, awe, and overwhelm. Looking at them at full stI have noticed how much they have grown and big they have become. We laugh and make a joke at how loveable they are when they are asleep as if the thing that had changed was them. Perhaps though the thing that has changed is me, my state of mind. Maybe that is simply the time where I feel comfortable to step back from the pressures of my day and just appreciate these beautiful people in my life.
Every now and then I am reminded of the value of controlling my state of mind and appreciate these beautiful people while they are awake, and even during the adventurous bedtime.