We do our best to get our kids to bed at a reasonable hour. Plans are made and intentions are well placed. But the wild card to the equation are the kids. One would assume spending an entire afternoon running around the zoo would wear a young body out making bedtime a welcome hour.
Wrong. Very wrong.
Even the very definition of bedtime has changed with each child. When the first child arrived, bedtime meant our daughter was asleep by 8:30. By the time child number four arrived, bedtime means we can locate three of four kids within our zip code.
So when the parents are more exhausted than the kids a plan must be hatched in order to keep the kids in their beds. We’ve tried bribes and threats with little success. Sometimes I’d tell a story which would work if the story lasted long enough to bore the kids to sleep. But lately even that hasn’t worked well.
But I came across something this weekend that worked well. When I say it worked well, I mean it kept the kids from running up the down the stairs asking us questions like, "Can I play Nintendo tomorrow after pre-school?" Basically, it keeps the kids in their beds. They’re still wide awake but they aren’t running through the kitchen looking for a snack. My secret has been to tell them a scary story. In the past I’ve told them about the Ghost outside the Window or the Goblin in the Chimney. Both kept the kids in their beds until Luca announced, "There’s no such thing as a ghost or goblin". What a lame dad!
She’s just too dang smart. So I had to concoct a more devious plan. I turn off all the lights and begin telling a story about three young kids who happen to be the same ages as our kids. They also live in the same color house and have a dog eerily similar to ours. Even the children’s names were similar. The story plods along until I explain how TWO HUGE, HAIRY TARANTULAS have taken up residence under their beds. Their eyes grow wide and I can see the wheels churning in their minds. Legs quickly stop dangling over the side of the bed and are placed under the covers and they snuggle up close to each other.
I’ll know the story has served it’s purpose when Lincoln asks, "How big are the Tarantula’s legs?" or "How hairy are his legs?"
"Huge and Very" I tell them as they all scoot towards to the middle of the bed. I then tuck each of them in bed. Luca wraps her arms around my neck and gives me a big kiss on the cheek. Lincoln wraps his arms and legs around me like a crab while Anna Lynn lures me in with open arms and, at the last second, tries to lick my ear.
Of course, there are no Tarantula’s where we live. I’m sure it won’t be long until Luca Google’s that fact and spoils the plan. Until then the Tarantula legend lives on. And those legs get huger and hairier with each telling.