The 21 Steps Toward Approaching the 3 Steps to Bedtime

The fact that they look like angels when they're (finally) asleep is not a coincidence. God is SMART, people.

Last night I attempted to put a very overtired Evan to bed. This involved three simple things.

1. Getting him out of the tub and into his pajamas.
2. Brushing his teeth.
3. Putting him in bed.

Three steps to bed. If you don’t have children, you might think there’s only a handful of decisions to be made there. You would of course be wrong. There are actually 137 decisions to be made in that three-step process, and the 2-year-old must make every single one. Actually that’s not right, he needs to make most of them, but definitely wants You to initiate certain things, and expects you to telepathically understand when the invisible ball is in your court. And you only have a certain number of seconds to recognize that ball, find it and tap it ever-so-lovingly back across the net to him, or else the ball will explode in your face in a giant wad of fiery tears and trust me when I say that No Other Ball will adequately replace the ball that YOU CAUSED TO EXPLODE, YOU IDIOT PARENT WITH YOUR FALSE ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT HOW HE USUALLY LIKES THE PAJAMAS WITH THE CARS ON THEM.

Again if you’re unfamiliar with the toddler set, here are just a handful of the excruciatingly important decisions hidden within just the very first! of those three small steps:

  1. Whether he wants to be lifted out of the tub or climb out himself.
  2. Who picks up the last toy from the tub and puts it in the bin.
  3. Which one of them gets the striped towel.
  4. The way the towel wraps around his dripping-wet body.
  5. The intolerable injustice of the towel momentarily falling off his shoulder. (OK I know that’s not a decision either one of us could possibly make but trust me when I say it’s STILL MY FAULT WHEN IT HAPPENS.)
  6. Whether he wants me to towel-dry his hair in the bathroom or in the bedroom.
  7. Whether or not he wants to sit on my lap or stand while I towel-dry his hair.
  8. Whether or not that last decision becomes null and void when he sees his naked brother scamper down the hallway.
  9. Whether or not it’s possible for all of us to rewind time and return to the bathroom once the scampering all over the damn place is finished so that he can again sit on my lap (or stand!?) to dry off even though he is now dry.
  10. Whether or not he wants to put on his own Pull-Up.
  11. How he wants me to put on his Pull-Up.
  12. How he doesn’t want me to put on his Pull-Up.
  13. The top-secret, as-yet-undiscovered, never-been-tried-before method by which he wants me to put on his Pull-Up. Or not.
  14. Whether or not he ever wants to wear a Pull-Up again, or anything for that matter.
  15. Whether or not my threats of leaving him naked for the rest of his life are empty or real.
  16. Whether or not he wants to pick his own pajamies. (Side note: He says “pajameees,” not “pajamas,” which I find adorable in a way that makes me sense God does that sort of thing on purpose to keep parents from killing their children on evenings such as this.)
  17. How long he should silently and stoically contemplate the pajama-selecting decision while I hold open the drawer and repeatedly ask him which ones he wants to wear.
  18. Whether or not he will lose his mind when I severely narrow his choices for him.
  19. Whether or not I’ll hold him when he’s crying inconsolably over not picking his pajamies.
  20. How quickly he is able to stop crying when he realizes his brother is dressed and is singing and dancing around him.
  21. How long he is able to continue his own impromptu naked dancing before his mother loses her mind.

See? Easily blew through 21 decisions (and when I say “easily” I mean “VERY FAR FROM EASILY”) and only managed to move from the bathroom to the bedroom. Still naked. No pajamas on. No teeth brushed. No bedtime in sight. (Just to be clear here, and let’s be honest specifically because my sister read this post and said “You’re giving him too many choices,” I want to clarify that these are not choices I’m giving him to make. It’s not like I’m standing in the bathroom holding two towels asking him to pick one. Or asking him where he wants his hair dried. Or how he wants his Pull-Up on. These are just random things he suddenly decides are happening in a completely wrong way and must be altered immediately. Got it, sis?)

It was a long night. It was the kind of night that ended — a solid 40 minutes later — with me climbing the stairs three times over water. Because he wanted some. But then he didn’t. But then he did. But then I brought it in the wrong kind of cup (“Tough break, little man”) so he wouldn’t take it. So I brought it back downstairs, which infuriated him because oh yeah turns out he wanted it. (“TOUGH BREAK! GO TO SLEEP!!”) So he came down and got it himself and brought it upstairs, then called for me to come get it and take it away. And when I didn’t he screamed, loudly, for a very long time, and finally fearing he would wake his brother I climbed the stairs to fetch his water that he’d turned down twice and then gotten himself, but it turns out he wanted me to take it IN THE MORNING, MOMMY, NOT NOW, and he was just crying because he was still torqued about the fact that I hadn’t brought us all back into the bathroom to sit on my lap and dry off after he had dried himself off by running down the hall wet and naked and jumping on my bed.

I then spent three minutes trying to piece together the puzzle of proper pillow position combined with the best blanketed body to exposed body ratio. And when all that was finished, when the last kiss had been deposited on his still-furrowed brow, I left. Again. Mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted, I flopped back down the stairs, only to hear his voice cry out from the darkness when I was exactly halfway to freedom.

“Mommy?” he called quietly. There was a softness to his little squeak. I could tell this wasn’t going to be a complaint or demand. Still, I braced myself.

“Yes. Evan?” I answered as sweetly as I could between clenched teeth.

“Tomorrow I’m going to wear the pajamies with the cars.”

Well played, God.

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