A Father and Bedtime
By Danny Thomas
its time to write
part of the reason that I have not written recently
is that I have been trying to figure out how to make up for lost time
how to catch the blog up
well it aint gonna happen
here’s the thing
between the new life of working full time at an amazing job,
and having an incredibly busy and wickedly smart toddler,
with two amazingly active and outrageously clever big sisters,
and an unbelievably driven admirably ambitious spouse,
all of whom eat on dishes and wear lots of clothes that need to be washed,
I’m having a slightly hard time balancing all these blessings…
and saving time for a creative life.
I haven’t sat down to write a blog or a song in 3 months.
It’s not as painful as I thought it’d be, I’m too distracted or tired to spend too much time dwelling on it…
What happens is – on the rare occasions when I’ve cleared the decks and I have a bit of me time , I spend it either exercising or with a cocktail and whichever episode of Skins or Louie I happen to be on…
I will just pick one of the bloggable highlights from the last three months…
as a sort of post-cardy attempt at catching this blog up on summer, and back to school and the astounding development of this lovely family…
a few weeks ago I was a little uptight at bedtime…
maybe more than a little…
there are nights when I get wound up
at bed time
largely due to my own choices;
waiting too late to start bedtime,
not checking on the room before we head in to read stories,
(I have a hard time putting them to bed in a cluttered mess)…
sometimes though I get pushed to the edge because it takes
the rugrats far too long to settle…
and it turns in to a game.
with Lil Chaos it’s an ancient pattern that we found ourselves in when she was just a toddler…
It became a power struggle at an early age and there are still some remnants of that struggle hanging on…
at any rate, on this particular night,
I lost it…
I basically jumped right to mutually assured destruction,
I went nuclear..
without sending in ground troops or firing a warning shot…
I came in to the room,
I was tired,
and began grumbling
and was never able to get myself to zero
when things finally got tidy and I was ready to read
and Lil’ Chaos started to kick and fuss and flop around in her bed
I walked out
and told them they’d have to put themselves to bed.
I’m sure there are plenty of parents who believe a 5 and 7 year old should be putting themselves to bed all the time.
I love bed time these days.
It is our time.
Certainly, Jen will tell you, there are times when I need a break.
When I wish I had the gear to nurse the little one to sleep if she’d have me.
but most of the time, we are reading great books
and having interesting chats
it is a good together time
and I feel it is part of the foundation I am setting with the girls for
communication and openness…
not this night.
The thing that sucks
when we reach the “no story time” consequence
is that we all pay the price.
In a big way.
When they lose my help with bedtime,
it becomes a protracted,
This night I was stuck
not wanting to deal with the saga
and wanting to stick to my guns.
my blessed daughter,
in all her wisdom,
gave me an out…
as I was storming out,
grumbling about the endless
and socks and underwear
and Barbie clothes on the floor
and the piles of crap on every flat surface…
and the kids’ inability to be calm in bed…
I heard my words,
probably my fathers words,
come out of my daughters mouth…
“Will you stop for a minute and listen to me?”
her clear, calm, adult tone jarred me out of my preoccupation…
“I have three ideas for you Dad, three ways you wouldn’t have to get to this point.”
“Start with smaller consequences; like, say this is the last page or last three pages or something, instead of not reading at all, take away pages or chapters instead of the whole book…”
“don’t let yourself get so mad about all this stuff… count to ten, take a breath…walk out of the room for a minute…“
“and you could just ignore me.”
On so many levels – she convinced me – she came up with good ideas…
and also showed me that something is making a connection in there.
That, not only is she absorbing all the crap I spew daily,
she is able to volley it back to me and school me with it…
all three of my kids have had at least one or two moments like this,
in the last few months
showing me incredible levels of development and maturity…
over the course of this big transition…
from summer to fall,
no school to school,
pre-k to kindergarten,
1st to second grade,
at home to full time day care,
part time worker stay at home dad,
to full time worker,
summer “off” to back to teaching.
But lets face it we are perpetually transitioning
life as we know it is an endless tunnel of transitions…
There is not an end “thing” to become…
We don’t transform from chrysalis to butterfly
because it doesn’t stop
until we are dead…
and maybe not even then.
As soon as you think there is some routine to settle in to…
the lawnmower breaks,
and your car needs a new clutch,
and ballet gets traded in for taekwondo,
or something bigger…
At this point I am convinced it is more about
perpetually becoming a butterfly…
or finding your butterfly self in each moment.