Monday, November 14, 2011

The bedtime routine . . . anything but "routine".

One of my favorite times of the day is the children’s bedtime.  That is not to say that I like them best when they are sleeping, rather, I enjoy the sweet family time we have during the closing parts of the day.  Unfortunately wrestling two small children into their beds before they believe they are ready is very similar to wrangling cats.
            They both have a routine that if one element is found to be off, will start the process over.  They brush their teeth (this is obviously a mommy and daddy requirement), climb into bed with all their appropriate toys (this includes an array of stuffed animals, princesses, superheroes, books, swords, wands, and tiara’s among other things), read a book (my son has recently started reading to us), sing a song (nearly every night is “Jesus loves me”, which I am thankful for as I hardly know the words to any other songs), and our nightly prayers.
            My son likes to start asking questions as we herd him off to bed.  I like to believe that he is an inquisitive soul and he is pondering the meaning of the universe at this time.  However, I have a sneaky suspicion that this is simply a delay tactic.
Nonetheless, this time brings up some interesting Q & A sessions.  Most recently, our son was talking about some of his friends and the names of their parents, which raised an interesting question in my mind, does our son even know our real names, so I figured I’d ask, “What is mommy’s name?”
            “Mommy” he responded matter-of-factly.
            “I know that is what you call her, but what is her real name?”
            He looks skyward for a moment trying to recall a name that I might have used in the past and after some thought, he excited says, “Babe!”
            Laughing and realizing that he may not have heard our names too often and curious what he thinks my name might be, I ask, “What’s my name then?”
            With less thought, he simply said, “Honey.” 
I guess it could be worse, right?
            My daughter on the other hand seems to enjoy the music portion of the routine.  She loves to sing (often making up her own words to her own tune).  Both of the children have a little radio in their room that plays nice child friendly bedtime music on a nightly basis.  Recently though, my daughter has started asking me to dance with her before we lay her down to sleep.  “One dance daddy, one dance,” (probably another stall tactic, but I’ll go for it every time).  She stands on her bed as I stand on the floor or I simply hold her and we sway back and forth to the music (if I am in the mood for some adorable laughter, I’ll throw in a spin or two).  After we’ve laid her down and said our prayers, just before I close the door, I’ll whisper, “Hey baby girl.”
“What?” she’ll say with a hint of excitement.
“I love you.”
“I love you too daddy.”  How can it get any sweeter than this?  This routine has literally has brought tears of joy to my eyes.
When the children are in bed, it becomes mommy and daddy time.  We do what most parents do at this point of the day . . . we go straight to bed, but first we brush our teeth, sing a song . . . 

My daughter . . . the Princess!

“Daddy, I a princess,” my daughter says in her excited three year old voice.
            She doesn’t have to convince me.  I have believed this since the day she was born.  In fact, when my wife was pregnant with our daughter, my greatest fear was that she would have me wrapped around her little, princess fingers . . . which has proven to be totally true and an accurate concern.  However, her view of her being a princess and mine are different, I mean, my peasant mind could not fathom the duties and responsibilities or royalty, right?  She has totally embraced the idea of a princess gown and tiara (which she calls a “crown”) as the defining characteristics of a princess, while in my mind, she just IS my princess.
She has started insisting on wearing her dress up princess costumes all the time.  The people we run across at church, restaurants, or the local grocery store actually make the situation even more difficult to manage as she is consistently hearing, “Oh, isn’t the little princess so cute!”  To which she gives a big grin with squinty eyes, tilting her head to the side in an effort to feign bashfulness, and will often end in a twirl.
She loves to dress like a princess so much that she doesn’t want to be seen until she is in full princess regalia.  One recent morning, I was coming down the hall as my wife was assisting her in putting on her full princess gear.  I was met with, “Daddy, No!  Don’t look!  I not ready!”
Now this wasn’t because she was indecent, it was because she wasn’t perfectly dressed in her beautiful gown.  In fact, she often can’t decide on which princess outfit she should wear, so what should any self-respecting princess do in such a conundrum?  Why she wears them all, of course.  It not unusual to see our little princess wandering through the house with a white gown, covered by a red sparkly dress, covered by a pink tutu.  Try telling her that it’s too much or it doesn’t match and suffer the princess wrath.
Recently, we forced her to wear some of her normal three year old clothes (this wasn’t to prove a point, it was simply because those dresses had to be washed or they would probably start twirling on their own) and she went into a depression.  As I walked into the room, I said, “How’s my little princess?”
Only to be met with, “I not a princess,” followed by a sad and disappointed sigh. 
“But you have your crown on.” I responded, trying to bring her out of her funk, it didn’t matter, she knew better . . . she is royalty after all. 
There is a bridal shop we drive by several times a day with beautiful gowns in the window and every time we drive by she says, “I want to get married.”  Now she has no interest in boys at this age, it all dates back to a conversation when her mommy told her she could wear one of those dresses when she got married.  We’ll have to coach her on the real meaning of marriage as she grows older, because all it means now is that she gets to wear a beautiful white gown and look like a princess.
No matter how far away a wedding day may seem, it is too soon for this daddy!  My daughter doesn’t need a white dress to be a princess in my eyes . . . but then, I clearly have no understanding of the true duties of royalty.