We've been working on bedtime lately. That's kind of misleading. The truth is, we're ALWAYS working on bedtime. Getting the kids to go to bed without a thousand curtain calls and before 10pm is basically my life's work.
But lately, we've been making an extra big effort, really trying to hammer down some sort of order into the chaos because there's going to be a baby in the house soon - a real one, with REAL, justifiable sleep issues and right now, the thought of introducing more insanity into our bedtime strikes a chord of terror into my heart.
So, after OD'ing on research (polling ParkSlopeParents for advice, re-skimming my sleep books, visiting Soho Parenting, the sleep gurus of NYC) I basically realized there's no simple solution, more a war of attrition. But the Soho Parenting people did make one very useful suggestion, which was that we start the whole bedtime earlier. 8pm is a perfectly nice bedtime if your kids go to sleep, oh within an half hour or so of hitting the hay, but when it takes them 2 stinking hours to "wind down", well, 8pm might as well be the stroke of midnight.
So we pushed bedtime back about 30-60 minutes and now - miracle of miracles - the kids are usually conked out by 9:30pm. Believe it or not, that's a major improvement for us. That's reason for a ticker tape parade. Sec especially has responded well to the early bedtime, sometimes falling asleep by 9pm, which makes us feel so extraordinarily fortunate, we don't even SPEAK of it when it happens.
One night, the unthinkable happened. At 8:45, I went into the kids' bedroom to fulfill some demand of Primo's -- more milk or I need a new pen to create my comic book masterpiece or I finished this book can I have another one? -- and I saw Sec was asleep. I told Primo I'd come back in 15 minutes to turn off his book light and sing him some songs, thinking maybe I could have them BOTH asleep by a conventional bedtime.
At 9pm, I creeped into the bedroom, and climbed the first few steps of the ladder to Primo's top bunk. But I stopped short. Because my son was sleeping. SLEEPING.
"Good God," I thought, "he's fallen asleep reading his book, like a kid in a freaking MOVIE. I guess that shit really DOES happen. "
I immediately sucked my whispering back into my throat and creeped like a pregnant ninja down the ladder, slipping out of the room without a sound.
"David," I said, "You are not going to believe what I'm about to say. Primo is asleep."
"Its 9pm," he replied, confused.
"I know," I said.
We exchanged proud glances, not even daring to jinx our good fortune by speaking out loud what we were thinking, and that was, "Its working. Our massive effort is paying off. We are good parents and this is the proof. By God, we've done it."
And then, the door to the kids' room swung open and Primo darted out laughing his head off meniacally.
"I tricked you Mommy!!!" he chortled, "You thought i was asleep! But I was only pretending!"
Which made a lot more sense.