Every night when it's time to get ready for bed, we go through the same routine. At 7:00, everyone gets their p.j.'s on, brushes their teeth, the girls put their hair up so it doesn't get all tangled in the night, and everyone comes downstairs. They all (even Monster Truck(2)) write in their journals while we read aloud for half an hour. Currently we are reading The Tale of Despereaux. At the end of reading time, we sing a song, say a prayer together as a family, and everyone gets to choose a book to take to bed. They read in bed quietly for another half an hour. Then they say their own prayers, get tucked in, and it's lights out. And then I check to make sure the carbon monoxide detector is still working because clearly I am hallucinating. This is the routine that we all agreed to as a family and is posted on the dining room wall. It's the routine that is a thing of beauty once every new moon. The one which is nearly always the same that I referred to up there at the beginning is:
At 7:00 I say, "Okay, guys. Go get ready for bed." They all run (shrieking at the top of their lungs) up the stairs like a pack of howler monkeys and proceed to do any- and every- thing. Except get ready for bed. They laugh and I yell, "Get ready for bed." They fight and I say, "Get your p.j.'s on!" Someone gets hurt and I yell, "It wouldn't have happened if you weren't screwing around. Get ready for bed." (Fill in the blank) comes downstairs and says, "I can't find my toothbrush." After about ten minutes of intermittent reminders from me to "GET READY FOR BED!", I call everyone downstairs for journals, etc. and send whichever two children who are still wearing their jeans and t-shirts back upstairs to get their jammies on. For real this time. ("GET READY FOR BED!") The kids who are in p.j.'s get sent back upstairs to really brush their teeth this time. ("GET READY FOR BED!") The child whose toothbrush is lost and (if by some miracle there IS a child who did what was expected) the child who is ready for bed get out their journals and write or draw about their day depending on the age of the child. ("GET READY FOR BED!") If Mr. Yuke(4) is one of these children, there is a predictable conversation about how our journals are not regular art paper and he needs to just use one page each day and if he wants to do some artwork while we read he needs to get some different paper. When everyone finally comes downstairs truly ready for bed, we are out of time for reading, writing, or singing. The children who didn't get to journal have a hissy fit to which I answer that they chose to use up their time acting like pygmies upstairs. We have a prayer and I send them to bed. And then one or the other of them inevitably asks me with an angel face and puppy dog eyes to "Tuck them in? Please?" (music to my ears) and once again my heart melts and I tuck everyone in (because of course one or the other of us is going to do that every night). And I sit down and sigh at my sweet little people and how much I love them. And then Little Mommy(9) comes out and says that (random body part) hurts. EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. And it's never the same one either. And it's never hurts until it's time to go to sleep. And Mr. Yuke(4) needs a drink. And then The Pinkiest(5) needs one too because it's NOT FAIR if Mr. Yuke(4) gets one and she doesn't. And then Monster Truck(2) doesn't WANT to be in bed and Little Mommy(9) has some other random pain. And she wants to know what exactly is going to be done about it?! And then I tell them that the next person out of bed is going to be dead meat and I better not hear one more peep out of anyone. And then it's quiet.
And then Monster Truck(2) gets out of bed again. For the 27th time.
Last night Husband called during this period of chaos and I really miss him so I kept him on the phone and conversed softly with him while all this was going on. The result was that after a few minutes he said, "It sounds like you have 'Go to bed!' Tourette's. Because of this, I started playing some Christmas music on the piano in an effort to drown them out while I talked to him as the kids were (NOT) getting ready for bed. One of the songbooks I have is a hand-me-down from my mom called "A Peanuts Christmas" (Snoopy). She went through a Peanuts phase in the 70's which she does not remember. Anyway, the book is just basically a bunch of easy Christmas carol arrangements with pictures of Peanuts characters on the tops of the pages. Being the token ready-for-bed-child, The Pinkiest(5) was sitting on the piano bench next to me, listening to the music. I stopped playing after a couple songs and Little Mommy(9) came bolting down the stairs and said, "Mommy, will you please play more Peanuts Christmas Songs?" The Pinkiest(5) got a funny look on her face, pulled her fingers out of her mouth and said, "Penis Christmas Songs?"
"Twinkle, twinkle little star, do you know how loved you are?"