So, the 5-year-old is hip to the fact that we do not, in fact, go to bed right after he does, and to say it is not well-received information is an understatement.
It started with a little slip of the tongue. Mike was getting ready to begin Mikey’s bedtime routine, and as they headed toward his bedroom I said to Mike, “I’ll cue up Yellowstone so it’s ready to watch when you come out.”
Mikey stopped dead in his tracks. “What’s Yellowstone?”
Mike and I looked at each other, then looked at the kid, then looked at each other again, panic setting in.
“Uhhhhh,” Mike said.
“It’s a book!” I blurted out.
“You said ‘watch,’” Mikey said.
“Uh, I meant read. Did I say ‘watch?’ Haha, that’s silly. I meant read,” I yammered on. “Dad and I will read Yellowstone when you go to bed. Like how you read your books. That’s our book.”
“What’s Yellowstone about?” he asked.
“It’s about cowboys and stuff,” said Mike.
“Can I read Yellowstone?” he asked.
“No,” both Mike and I said.
My husband somehow got the child to forget about Yellowstone and go to bed. Phew. Crisis averted.
However, Mike and I continued to get sloppy. One night, one of us – I will not disclose who – left a wrapper from an ice cream novelty on the coffee table and Mikey saw it the next morning.
I was in the kitchen getting his lunch box out of the refrigerator when I heard, “Momma, who had a treat?”
“What’s that?” I asked as I popped my head around the corner, and to my horror saw Mikey pointing to the wrapper.
My stomach dropped. “Uh, that… Um… hmmm… that’s a good question, buddy.”
“Did someone eat it last night?”
“No. Definitely not.” I said, shaking my head.
“Then why is it here?”
I was frozen in place. “You know what,” I said. “I bet Dad got up in the middle of the night and snuck in a treat. He’s going to be in big trouble for that. What do you think his punishment should be?”
Mike looked up to the ceiling as he thought. “He should go in time out.”
“Yes!” I practically yelled as I pointed my finger at him. “He should definitely go in time out. As soon as he gets home from work, he will be going in time out.”
“He should count to 20,” added Mikey.
“Good idea. Dad will count to 20 in time out.”
Luckily, it was one of our doughnut mornings, so I was able to redirect his train of thought and get out the door without too much damage done.
I tell you, if he found out that not only do we NOT go to bed immediately after him, but that we also stay up watching TV and eating junk, heads would roll!
What might have been the final nail in the coffin was when, the other night, after reading Mikey his book and I turned off the light, we saw bright light shining through the crack in the door, indicating that a light in the main living area was on.
Mikey shot up in bed like a rocket. “Is Dad watching TV?” he asked, accusingly.
“No,” I shook my head. “That’s just the light to our bedroom. Dad is putting his pajamas on, and we are going to bed.”
The child gave me the stink eye and then slowly lowered himself back onto the bed, but kept his eyes trained on me as I left his room. I immediately went into our bedroom and shut off the light and told Mike to get into bed.
I turned on the monitor to Mikey’s room and we sat there until we were fairly certain he was asleep and would not come out to catch us. Then, we snuck out of the bedroom and into the living room and watched the television on low volume in fear – without snacks, because we didn’t want to accidentally leave any contraband behind – until we finally just threw in the towel and went to bed.
It’s fine. I could use the extra sleep anyway.
Holly Crocco is editor of the Putnam County Times/Press and mother of a 5-year-old. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.