Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Goodnight, Bedtime, Hello Stalling!

For those of you following along, my sister and her family arrived safely Monday afternoon.  After a few hours together and dinner, we parted ways knowing that the kids would get together the next day.  I tucked Graham in promptly at 8pm and then wrestled Cael into this room immediately thereafter.  His usual bedtime is 8:30, but with the excitement of the day I knew he could benefit from an extra few minutes of sleep.

We gathered all of the usual suspects: Bloose, Bear, Tigger and Puppy and loaded them all into his big bed.  After reading an delightful Clifford story we turned off the lights, said his prayer and my big boy went to sleep.

Wait a minute.  That's not what this blog is about.  This is about parenting my noisy, mischievous and crazy sons.  So let's try the story with a little less optimism and a little more honesty, shall we?

I encouraged Cael to gather up his friends, but after one brief glance around the room Cael concluded that they had been burned in the "big fire" just like the characters on Toy Story 3 nearly experienced.  We sat for several minutes, Cael working through concerns about any potential arson that may take place at our house, while I shook my fists at the Pixar people for the second time this week.  We scoured the basement only to find his friends crammed behind the framing boards of his toy closet.  Bear, Tigger and Puppy were huddled together while Bloose was several feet deeper into the closet, all balled up and clinging to a couple of dead boxelder bugs.  I cleaned up the friends and ushered Cael into his room.

"I have to pee!"

"You JUST peed.  How do you have to go again already?"

"I don't know.  I just have to!"

"Alright, let's do it quickly."

Once in the bathroom, Cael felt it necessary to point out every scratch or scuff in the green paint of the bathroom.  I assured him that I was not painting tonight, nor did I even have any of the left over paint from the previous owners, but he still felt it imperative that he share these details.

"Thanks, Cael.  Now please go potty so that I can get you into bed!"

Cael dropped his pajama pants all the way down to his ankles and after pausing only momentarily, he matter-of-factly told me,

"The pee won't come out."  Of course it won't.

"Pull up your pants, then, and we are going straight to bed!  If you still want a story, you need to hustle."

The threat of no story did temporarily boost his speed.  He yanked up his pants, put the lid down, washed his hands and got to the door of his room before his energy petered out.

"But Mommy... I didn't pick a story."

"Can I choose one for you tonight?"

"No!  You always pick short stories."  I wonder why.  Walking to the bookshelf, I made a compromise. 

"Let's see if we can find one that we can both agree on, okay?"

"Okay, Mommy."

At the bookshelf, Cael offered up some bizarre suggestions.

"What about this one?"  He held up my "Better Homes & Gardens" magazine that had mistakenly been put on the bookshelf with the children's stories.  While I'd prefer reading decorating advice over "Elmo's Potty Adventure", I knew it wouldn't keep Cael's attention.

"Oooh, this looks like a good one!"  

Quickly identifying "Snow White" in his hand, I created a diversion and hid the book.  Not the best behavioral modeling I've done, but bedtime calls for desperate measures.  After all, that particular Little Golden Book spooks him each time when the huntsman is tracking down poor, unsuspecting Snow White with the intent of killing her.  The first time we read it, I censored the story and told him that the woodsman wanted to capture her.  But Cael, being as exceptional as he is, quickly made a connection between the huntsman's weapon and the expression on Snow White's face.  Yep, that book is best kept under the TV stand.  Isn't that where the books are kept?  No?  My mistake.

Lastly, Cael held up a Clifford book and I jumped at the suggestion.  We snuggled into his bed and I opened the book and began to read.


"Mommy, why that man in the Snow White book wants to hurt that lady?"

"Oh, Cael.  Don't worry about that right now.  Let's listen to the Clifford story."

"Is that man going to hurt Clifford?"

"No, honey, that's a different story.  There is no mean man in this book."


"Let's start over, shall we?  Teacher's--"

"Mommy, the pee will come out now!"

Ugh.  "Cael, this is your last opportunity.  Go straight to the bathroom and pee, and then come right back or this book is going right back on the shelf."


Cael scampered out of his room and after I heard the lid come up on the toilet, there was almost 20  seconds worth of nonstop peeing.  Where was he storing it all?  He'd gone less than 15 minutes before and hadn't had anything to drink in over 2 hours.

"Wow, you must be a camel!"

"A CAMEL? No, Mommy... I'm a Cael!"

After some intense giggling over the thought of having large humps on his back, he settled down and I started the story again.

"Teacher's Pets.  Welcome to doggy--"

"Will I see Ethan and Keaton tomorrow?"

"Yes, Cael.  Now you need to quiet down and listen to this story or I'm putting it away.  Do you understand?"

"Yes, Mommy."


"I'm a camel!"

With that, I took the book and returned it to its proper place right alongside my Better Homes and Garden magazine.  I thought about hiding it under the tv stand as well, but if I stockpiled all of our "problematic stories" under there, the television would be hitting the ceiling.

When I returned to his room, he was visibly irritated but knew that he'd brought that incident on himself and had the good sense not to argue about it.  I knelt beside his bed and I began his prayer.

"Dear God, thank you for a great day.  Thank you for..."

"Thank you for Ethan and Keaton and Gabriel and Amy and Thomas the Train.  And thank you for pizza and my train set and my tractor outside.  Mommy, is the battery charged on my tractor outside?  Ooh, I want to play on my tractor tomorrow.  When Sawyer gets here can we--"

This wasn't going well.  I can sense when things are getting out of my control, and at 8:38pm, a entire 29 minutes since we started this process, it was officially out of my control.

"Cael, we're going to say a short prayer tonight.  Dear God.  Thanks for a great day.  Please keep up safe, healthy, give us good dreams and a good day tomorrow.  Amen."

"But Mommy, that was too short!"  

"It's okay Cael.  God will understand."

And I think I he did.  After all, Jesus was 3 years old once, right?

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