bedtime usually works out ok. except when it doesn’t.
i always make the joke that no one in this house can sleep without me. even greg will toss and turn nights when i try to stay up and write and won’t start snoring peacefully until i tuck in next to him. so, you figure it out. bedtime is kind of like regular life intensified. both kids need me, just primordially need me. for comfort, warmth, what have you, in order to go to sleep. neither one wants dad. we all go to sleep at the same time. so, you do the math.
surprisingly, things usually work out. i will sit out in the living room with joel in the rocker while greg reads ruth her bedtime stories and, most of the time, by the time the stories are finished up, joel is konked and already laid in his crib, i am free to swoop in and lie with ruth until she dozes and greg is free to shower and climb into bed himself. except sometimes…if joel has had a late nap or is feeling otherwise energized, sometimes, he just isn’t sleepy. i guess we’re spoiled with him and i shouldn’t complain because at that age, i’m pretty sure ruth never went to sleep before 10 pm, even staying up sometimes as late as 11 or 12 (the trade off is that joel is a prompt early-riser and never sleeps in past 8 am, and that’s a stretch most mornings). i usually joke that ruth is like my older brother: her tendency is to stay up late, sleep in, and she’s always in a bad mood and groggy for a good hour after waking. best to keep your distance. joel is more like me: loves to sleep and rise early.
anyways, i’m off topic. on those days, there is simply no solution. if it looks like the night is headed in that direction, i usually prepare for screaming, because you can bet there is going to be some screaming. if i try to tell ruth, to reason with her, that mom needs to be with baby brother and put him to sleep and that i can’t lie with ruth, oh, you can bet there will be screaming. and waterworks. sometimes she will pathetically ask for a toy and the light to be left on and then lie there for a few minutes sobbing until she just can’t take it any more and comes out into the living room to find me. “ruth, you’re keeping your brother up, you can’t stay out here.” “but i’ll be really quiet,” she sobs. ok. explaining that there’s nothing to be afraid of doesn’t work. “i gotta get some sleep,” greg will usually announce at some point and wash his hands of the situation. then, it’s just the three of us. me and two un-sleepy, unhappy kids.
i hate those nights.
luckily they don’t happen super often. just often enough to keep me on my toes. often enough to make me incredibly wary of introducing a third into the mix. thanks, universe. thanks for the reality check.