On the way home from the YMCA.
What I say: OK, kids, when we get home, it’s time for bed. So we’re going to get pajamas on, read books, brush teeth, say prayers, sing a song, and then bed. Got it?
What my kids hear: OK kiddos, when we get home, claim you’re starving, beg for food, and throw a tantrum when you don’t get said food.
What my kids say: OK Daddy!
What I hear: Yes, Daddy, we’ll be perfect angels when we get home. We’ll definitely be in bed by 7:30 so you and Mommy can have some quality time together.
Oh, I’m so naïve.
7:30 p.m. (the time I was hoping they would be in bed)
What I say: For the millionth time, no! You cannot have ice cream and pop tarts. It’s time for bed! Go get your pajamas on, now!
What my kids hear: Yes, kids, I am a terrible person and I want you to starve. Now, go spend 10 minutes looking for pajamas, come back downstairs and claim you can’t find any, then go back upstairs and start fighting with each other about something trivial.
What my kids say as they stomp upstairs: OK dad (not so cheerfully this time, I might add).
What I hear: Daddy, we may have robbed you of half an hour with Mom, but don’t worry, by 8:00 p.m. we’ll be sound asleep.
What Junior says: Dad! Addy won’t get off me!
What I say: Why is she on you?
What Junior says: Because I tackled her.
What I hear: Because I’m trying to destroy your evening.
What I say: OK, now that we’ve read books, brushed teeth, and said prayers, it’s time to head upstairs for songs.
What my kids hear: Dearest little ones, take your time heading upstairs. There’s no rush. In fact, Mommy and I want to spend the next two hours with you.
9:00 p.m. (One-and-a-half hours past desired bed time)
What I say: “ ... the cold never bothered me anyway.” (Yes, I did just finish singing “Let it Go” for the 872nd time.) OK, love you guys. Have a good night sleep.
What my kids hear: OK, guys, what 12 other songs do you want me to sing?
What my kids say: Daddy, sing the mermaid song!
What I hear: Give in, Daddy, we’re never going to bed.
What I say: Guys, I’m done arguing! I’m not going to sing anymore songs! It’s time for you to be asleep! Goodnight!
What my kids hear: Darling children, wait 10 minutes then start yelling my name. If at first Daddy ignores you, keep yelling until you get my attention. When I finally answer, claim you’re so thirsty that you’ll die if I don’t get you a drink of water.
What my kids say: Goodnight Daddy!
What I hear: You finally did it, Daddy! You’re amazing! It might be an hour-and-a-half past when you wanted us in bed, but now we’ll fall asleep quickly because it’s so late.
What I say: For the last time, no, I am not getting you water! And I don’t want to hear your voices again the rest of the night. The next kid that speaks is going to be in big trouble!
What my kids hear: Lay low for a few minutes so Daddy will relax and then you can catch him off guard.
What my kids say: We have to use the bathroom!
What I hear: We’re lying, conniving demons who are firmly resolved to never let you and mom spend another moment alone ever again.
What I say: Fine, go use the bathroom!
What my kids hear: You have permission to use the bathroom provided you unroll the entire roll of toilet paper and smear toothpaste all over the bathroom walls.
What I say: OK, kids, I’m serious this time. Go to bed. Don’t let me see your beautiful little faces again until the morning.
What my kids hear: My sweet angels, I wish I could look at your beautiful faces all night long.
After tip toeing downstairs, Junior pops his head out from around the corner.
What I say: Junior, what are you doing up?!? You were supposed to be asleep two and a half hours ago.
What Junior says: I just wanted to see what you guys were doing.
What I hear: Daddy, please sell me on eBay.
What my wife says: Hey, I think they’re both asleep and it’s not even 11:00. That’s actually not too bad.
I nod my head in agreement because, she’s right – both kids asleep by 10:30 p.m. isn’t half bad. Even more impressive, though, is the fact that it took a mere three-and-a-half hours to get there. That might be a new record.
Of course, this victory will be short lived. Come 3:00 am, they’ll both be in bed with us. But for now, it’s time to party. Because tonight, we owned bedtime.