Much like other families, we have some tried and true bedtime rituals in our house. Back when there was only one kiddo, these seemed like manageable acts to repeat without deviation every night. “Bath, book, bottle, bed” was scrawled across our notes to the babysitter. Speaking to my sister yesterday, I had that realization that we’ve, er, eased up on our nightly expectations. Well, perhaps I would be more clear if I said, we’ve eased up on hygiene. It takes an inordinate amount of time to give three kids a bath every night. I am telling myself that this change coincides with a burgeoning desire to be more environmentally aware, but really it’s just a time thing. If they don’t stink, they can wait until Saturday night. Or Sunday. Or maybe Monday if the weekend is particularly nutty.
But we don’t mess with the “book” component of the family bedtime rituals. Hell no, the ruckus would be unbelievable. And there is no skipping of pages at our house either. Nope, each kid gets 2-3 books (or chapters for the 9 year old) and that’s it. There will be absolutely no deviation from this plan.
Unless it is really, really late and then we tell them a story. At which point some things can go really wrong.
Now, I must confess. This applies only to myself. My husband does a better job of telling stories than myself. While a surprising tidbit, this is true. Not in the traditional sense that he has an innately better inner-storyteller, because I am rather proud of my inner storyteller. It’s just that he stays awake better than I do. Oh, and I talk in my sleep.
The first time this happened was way back in our early, early days in college. We were talking and I was telling him something – profound, I’m sure – when I fell asleep mid-conversation. To give you the full flavor of this situation, I should probably disclose that while most people start to feel drowsy, rub their eyes or yawn a bit, I’m more of the whole, “Yada yada yada, bonk” kind of gal. Yep, like there’s just some big ole switch some place and it was just flipped.
Which would just be a bit of an eyebrow raiser except that I’ve been a sleep talker my whole life. In which case, I just seem more crazy than usual.
The little quip that I came up with almost 20 years ago that he still teases me about to this day? “Yada, yada, yada, more philosophical discussion like college students like to drone on about, yada, yada, I’m trying to tell you that a male chauvinist is a non-alcoholic drink!” And since we’d been talking about something like deforestation or some such thing, this made him actually pay attention to me for a moment before bursting into laughter.
So why am I reminded of this little entry in my personal history? Well, last night our youngest was really determined to not fall asleep. Daddy suggested I tell him the Three Little Pigs after the lights went out. No problem. Except that I was tired myself. And the lights were out. And I was rocking. And we were all cuddled up in our fleece blankie and it was so warm and cuddly and the Three Little Pigs is about as exciting a paint-peeling. So, our little bedtime story went like this last night:
“Once upon a time there were three little pigs who lived with their mama in a wonderful place they liked to call home. But the time came for the three little pigs to go out into the world and live in their own homes. So their mama walked them to the front door, gave them all a hug, shooed them out the door and shouted to them as they walked down the lane to be sure to send her a letter when they got settled into their new homes.
Now those three little pigs were walking along and the first little pig…”
“Mama, he’s a bear.”
“What? No honey, he’s a wolf. But that part comes in a little bit. Just hang on. Okay, so the the first little pig is walking along and he decides that he is tired of walking and that the spot that they had just reached looked like a fine place to”
“Mama, it’s a bear. Bear, bear, bear.”
“Wha-? No, it’s a wolf. Anyway, he decides to stop right there and build his house. So that’s what he did. He took a whole bunch of straw and built himself a house of straw and was so proud of himself that he got ready to write a letter to his mama. Now, his two brothers had continued on to find their own places to build their houses. (“Bear, Mama, bear.”) The second brother was walking along chatting with his brother when they got to a shady little place and he thought it looked like a splendid place to build a house. So he gathered up some sticks and set about building himself a nice little house. Meanwhile, the third brother wished him well and reminded the second little pig to write to their mama and went on to find himself a place to build a house. He had gone a short ways when he came to the best place ever to build a house…”
“So the third little pig proceeds to build himself a house, but it isn’t made of straw or sticks, but big ole bricks. And so when he was done, it was a beautiful brick house.
It just happened that right about the time that the third little pig was sending his mama a letter with his new address, the big bad wolf (Maaa-maaaa, it’s a bear!) came to the straw house of the first little pig. And the big, bad wolf said, ‘Little pig, little pig, let me in.’ And the little pig said, ‘Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin.’ So the wolf huffed and puffed and he blew that house in. So, of course, that poor little pig had to sprint down the road to his brother’s house to be safe from the big, bad (BEAR! BEARY BEAR BEAR!!!) wolf.
“Shh, okay, so the little pig ran to his brother’s house, but the WOLF was was not far behind. And the wolf went to c324s.”
“Mama? Mama? Bear, bear, beary bear bear bear. Beary bear bear!”
“Um, um, so the wolf said, ‘little pig, little pig let me in.’ And the second little pig said, ‘the pig said, “I don’t think so.”
“Um, and the cat had to go to the bathroom.”
At which point my husband’s laughter woke me up. I continued with the more conventional story to a nice little rhythmic chanting of “beary bear bear” until the little guy feel asleep, just prior to the less family-friendly part of the wolf being roasted to death at the bottom of the chimney – which is a great little PSA for not breaking and entering, if you ask me.
Perhaps he and I both need to just stick to the original bedtime story.