Suburban Snapshots

Her Bed Time Stories End
in Cupcakes

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I really want to be better at bed time. I imagine Steve peeking in the doorway and finding me snuggled with Anna, patiently and enthusiastically reading Go Dog, Go! and pausing a minute to genuflect before the overwhelming wholesomeness.

But as any number of my report cards will show, I've never been much of a disciplined reader.

Anna's pretty good at getting to bed. She spends too long choosing her toothbrush and asks for a roster of comforts before we can leave her room, but generally she goes in and stays in until climbing into my bed at 6 a.m. saying, "Let's watch some tee-vee, Mama." I don't hurry this process along because I know it's some of the only one-on-one time she has with me between school, the end of my work day, and bed time.

By the time I've patiently watched her debate the merits of the Tigger toothbrush versus the Cars toothbrush, spit, wipe, ask for a back rub, a belly rub, a snuggle, "Lay with me, Mama," "My nightlight is too bright," "Flatter-out my blankie," I've got little left in me for The Cat in the Hat (who I can't read without hearing Martin Short, thank you, PBSKids) or Llama Llama. I skip pages at a time in her collection of goodnight poems and have been known to donate books I can no longer stand reading — Fox in Socks is long extinct in this region.

What doesn't help is her tendency to hop around the room as I read, ignoring the words but protesting the second my lips stop moving. At that point I figure the book isn't enrichment as much as it's another tactic to keep me in her room until it's even more past bed time, cutting more into my grown-up, unwind time.

The compromise I've come to lately is telling her stories, asking her to add her own little thoughts and words. The exchange usually sounds something like a MadLibs All-Unicorns-and-Cupcakes Edition, and I love how her brain works at this age. The back and forth feels more like the time she wants from me, rather than me frustratedly reading while watching her tear apart her toy box and counting the minutes until I can kiss her and slip out.

I still look forward to that good night and some quiet Facebook time, the whole two hours I can spend as a single adult, not working or cleaning or hell, moving, at least until that goddamned Cat in the Hat comes on at 6 a.m.

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