Us: Perchance to Dream...

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Before we had children, Hope and I assumed our children would be awesome. What parent doesn’t? But thinking about raising a kid and actually engaging in the day-to-day tasks involved are never the same and reality tends to cause you to lower your expectations. Or at least massage the meaning of the word awesome. There are so many variables and areas that never occurred to us until they were staring us in the face. In that, we were like every other parent on the planet. One aspect that we assumed would be simple was putting the kids to bed. Yes, early on, it was easy because they would usually fall asleep in one of our laps and then you would lay them down in the crib, shut the door and wait for the next feeding. But when they got mobile and more aware was when things got interesting.

One thing Hope and I established early, which was different than a lot of our friends with children, was a set bedtime. This was important for a couple reasons, one being that they needed the sleep and were tired at eight p.m. and the other was that Hope and I were tired and needed them to be in bed by eight p.m. It allowed us to recharge our batteries and have an hour or two together. We also felt it was important to keep the kids to a schedule, our assumption being they felt some comfort in knowing that certain events happened at certain times. What we didn’t anticipate was the evolving routine of preparing for sleep.

As is common, the ebb and flow was dictated by the nature and personality of each child. William was a good soldier and was satisfied with one story, quick prayers, a hug, a kiss and an “I love you.” In fact, it was not uncommon for him to fall asleep during the story, which, hopefully, didn’t stunt his future prayer life. Laura, on the other hand, was a whirl of activity and processes. Between lining up baby dolls, getting the covers “just right” and agonizing over which story to read, she could wear us out. Add the fervent prayer time and it was a potential half hour of bed prep. Part of that was she was never sleepy, a constitution she absorbed from my DNA, and the other was she loved the attention. But we were strict and made her keep to the schedule. Since she and William are only 22 months apart, their bedtime was always the same so we had to take care of William first lest he be passed out before we were done with Laura’s rituals.

Jordan was also easy. As long as he had his thumb, he was content with a simple routine. The only issue with him was that he had to go to bed 30 minutes earlier than his brother and sister and that would annoy him. But it annoyed William and Laura even more when he got to stay up with them for one reason or the other, allowing Hope and I to do our part to continue the legacy of the privileged last child in the minds of the older siblings. And, honestly, it tends to be true, although I wouldn’t call it bestowing privileges on him so much as the parents are tired and, by the time you are wrangling full-time jobs and three kids, sometimes it is just easier to let things slide that you would never have done with the first (or even the second) child. I imagine there is enough information packed in that last sentence for its own blog post—duly noted.

Laura was also the queen of delaying going to sleep. She could not shut her brain off and relax so she would always make several trips out to the living room under the guise of needing to ask us a question. A typical conversation with her went like this:
Laura: “Can I ask you something?”
Us: “Sure, what do you need?”
Laura: (blank stare)
Us: “Go back to bed.”

My favorite response was one I learned from a comedian. Whenever any of the kids would wander out after being put to bed and inform us that they could not go to sleep, I would always respond with, “Yes, you can, I have seen you do it before,” to which there is no response and they would return to their room. I do not always recommend parenting via Def Comedy Jam but at least this one time, it worked for me.

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