One of the cardinal rules of our household is that we do not mess with Mr. Man’s bedtime. When 7:30 rolls around, he is either in his bed on en route thereto; he can handle some deviations from mealtimes and naptimes, but bedtime is, well, sacrosanct. If he is not in his cozy bed by 7:45, a rough night generally ensues.
I know this, of course, being one of the main promulgators of the rule. Nevertheless, as I was helping Bugaboo bundle into her coat for a 6:30 trip to Target last night (we had critical shortages of formula and milk), the pitiful sight of Mr. Man trying to fumble into his own coat melted my resolve and slowed my feet, so we decided instead of having a “big girls” errand night, we’d have an “oldest of each gender” errand night. Beanie, thoroughly delighted at the prospect of having Daddy and nearly unlimited possibilities for art projects all to herself (my husband has an art degree, and Baby Guy is generally sacked by 7:00-7:15), nearly pushed him down the stairs in her enthusiasm for him to accompany us. My husband looked askance at me, and I said, “Hey, we’re just going to Target. We won’t be gone that long.”
Every mother of small children who has ever taken small children to Target is now laughing.
We made it out of the driveway around 6:45, and arrived at the store about 15 minutes later. Milk and formula — oh, we also needed an inexpensive chess set for Bugaboo, who’s developed an interest in playing — couldn’t possibly take more than 10 minutes to acquire. Even if we detoured to pick up a small package of diapers for Mr. Man to ensure we didn’t run out before the next Subscribe and Save shipment, there shouldn’t be any problem getting Mr. Man home by the requisite hour. Oh, wait, Mr. Man has outgrown most of his pajamas, and I don’t want to have to wake Baby Guy to get some out of the dresser anyway, and they’re not too far from the diapers and formula. Hmm, Bugaboo was really excited when she saw those Hello Kitty nightgowns, and she’s a little short on sleepwear, too. Ah, there’s the milk. I wonder if there is such a thing as low-sodium cheese (my husband was recently directed to drastically reduce the amount of sodium in his diet)? Hey, this Swiss only has 30 milligrams. That’s a great price on shrimp. If I pick up a head of lettuce, my husband and I could have big chef’s salads for dinner. How much sodium is in bacon? WOW. We’re low on tuna, too. What kind has the lowest sodium?
I’m pretty sure the little light-up Toy Story sneaker connected with my cranium while I was looking at the third can of tuna.
Having four kids under the age of 5 has caused me to develop some really interesting skills. One of those skills is navigating a shopping cart using one hand with pinpoint accuracy at a dead run, using the other hand to grab the last remaining items on my list (milk and formula, remember?) and toss them over a protesting child into the basket of the cart. Bugaboo excels at getting the rebounds on the rare occasion that I miss the basket; as an extra added bonus, she thinks this is one of the most hilarious games Mommy plays with her tiny people.
I’m not sure whether to attribute the checkout lane that suddenly opened directly in front of me to Divine Providence, or to the store manager who wanted Mr. Man, who by now was yodeling his displeasure at not being anywhere near his bed at 7:45 in high C, out of his store. I had one of the big guy’s shoes in each of my pockets and was holding his blankie in my teeth so I could free up my hands to get everything I had in the cart onto the conveyor belt. Bugaboo, God bless her, was trying to help me sing a lullaby, since I have not yet mastered the art of singing “Irish Lullaby” with a blankie clenched between my incisors, and kept reminding Mr. Man to use his indoor voice. Our cashier rang up, bagged, and re-carted our 30 or so items in world record time, whereupon we beat a hasty retreat to the van. Mr. Man barely paused for breath until he had been buckled into his car seat, re-shod, and had his blankie returned, now that I was no longer in danger of being whipped by it. He stopped screaming, rubbed his hands across his teary eyes, favored me with a positively acid glare, then pronounced, “NOT. NICE. MAMA.”
Can’t laugh . . . not funny . . . and I still had to stop for gas.
At any rate, we finally got a still-irate-and-orating Mr. Man into his bed at about 8:30. When our big fellow does not get to sleep at his normal time, he tends not to sleep well at all. This was absolutely the case last night, as we heard him loudly lamenting the injustice committed against his schedule until nearly 3 a.m. Milk, water, hugs, crackers, stories, lullabies, and simply ignoring him all failed to get him to pipe down and go to sleep. Samuel L. Jackson‘s voice resonated in our heads (if you haven’t heard it, click only if you are not offended by profanity) as we tossed and turned and expressed our utter amazement that he had not managed to wake Baby Guy.
Since I was the one who had broken the bedtime law, I got up at 6 a.m. to feed Baby Guy, who, thankfully, wanted to go back to sleep after he leisurely slurped down his bottle. Mr. Man did not stir. By then the dogs wanted to go out, and when a 90+ pound puppy tells you he wants to go out, you put your coat on and take him out unless you are up for a re-enactment of the Great Flood. I shlumped upstairs after he and Bo had completed their business and had exactly enough time for my brain to register that it was now 7:00, which is the hour when Bugaboo and Beanie are allowed out of their room.
They met me at the top of the stairs and asked if I would pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease pour them cups of milk and let them watch the My Little Pony “mare-a-thon.” That sounded like a terrific idea to me, and one that gave me a fighting chance of getting a little extra sleep myself. My husband, who can out-snore Bo, was sawing logs in our bedroom, so I grabbed my pillow pet and started to stretch out on the couch. In order: Smudgie decided I needed the insides of my nostrils cleaned, Bugaboo spilled milk on her chest and started screaming that it was cold, Beanie decided my tummy looked like a trampoline, Bo bit Smudgie after Smudgie stuck a talon in Bo’s eye trying to get Bo to play with him, Beanie’s overnight pullup exploded onto the leg of my pajama bottoms, Bugaboo tripped over the living room carpet while trying to hop from one end of the room to the other, Beanie decided that she wanted breakfast and started shouting “GRAPES GRAPES GRAPES please GRAPES GRAPES GRAPES please YUMMY YUMMY GRAPES please” while stomping in rhythm with her chant until the grapes appeared, and the boys simultaneously awoke screaming.
My husband, for the record, slept for another hour after the boys awoke. I wish I had his talent for tuning out screaming.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for children with healthy lungs and strong limbs. Thank You for only giving me ten rules to follow, and for forgiving me when I break them if I approach you contritely. Lord, please help me remember why we’ve made these rules for Your blessings, and to forgive myself when I carelessly disregard them. We show our love for our children by being consistent in all things, by making sure that we put their needs above our wants. Please don’t ever let me make some extra groceries a higher priority than bedtime again.