Kids, This Is Your New Bedtime Routine

We’re just going to throw you in bed and turn out the lights. Love you!

I don’t want to hear any complaints! You don’t need us to read any books. You know all your letters now, so you can puzzle out the words for yourself. After all, we want to give your kindergarten teachers something to do. If you have trouble with multisyllabic words—that’s m-u-l-t-i… never mind. If you have trouble, write the word down and bring your compiled list to us on Saturday morning about 11 am or whenever you hear us finishing our showers, whichever is later. That’ll teach you both initiative and patience, something that we have not been inculcating with our current bedtime rituals.

We’ll be happy to carry you upstairs, but you’ll have to start learning how to wash up on your own now. You just need to add flossing and nail-clipping to your repertoire. That’s r-e-p-e… oh, forget it. Look, think of flossing as a game where you try to get all the pieces of food stuck on the mirror. And you only have to clip your nails, like, once a week—whatever damage you’ll do will fix itself by the following week. No whining! You’re two years old, for Pete’s sake. Your mother and I have a lot we have to do in the hour it takes you to get ready for bed. I have to return to my virtual towns and forts, and she is dying to open her new subscription box. If all else fails, just splash some water on your head and then dry yourself off using the carpet.

Now, as far as telling stories after your light is off: that’s over now. You can tell each other stories, and frankly I’m sure they’d be more entertaining than me talking about the mouse family that lives under the corner of the old barn again. You never let me tell it my way anyway—at some point, Papa Mouse is going to get mauled by that hawk. However, you should know that the rest of the mouse family is alive, and they are waiting for you to make a mistake and get out of bed. Don’t worry! They’re just warning bites.

And we’re quitting bedtime songs, too. I have sung “I’ve Been Working On the Railroad” and “Wheels on the Bus” to you about seven hundred times, and they always energize you. I should have been singing Brahms’s lullaby or perhaps humming a dirge. A strategic error on my part. That’s s-t-r-a… I’ll tell you tomorrow. From now on, I will give each of you a muffled miniature xylophone to play with rolled up paper towels. This will tire you out and help you learn to listen, both of which mommy and daddy need to happen.

Finally, we’re going to be adjusting the nightlight a little. We’re concerned that the 10-watt bulb is messing with your circadian rhythms, so we’re just going to downgrade it to a 1-watt directional LED that shines a dime-sized spot on the ceiling. You can think of it as your own, personal, indistinct, very dim moon. Your grandmother thought of that, as a condition for her future return to our house.

So good night! We’re so proud of you! We love you and will see you in the morning! Please finish packing your preschool snacks by 8:30.

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