Thursday, April 23, 2015

Us vs. Them

Remember those friends in high school or college who couldn't handle their shit? You know the ones I mean. The kids who partied like total amateurs, getting drunk and stoned and slurring and embarrassing themselves and making you babysit them all night long. You'd have some degree of sobriety and perspective, and they'd have a helpless case of the giggles and the stumbles that were often the harbinger of puking and finally--mercifully--passing out.

Well, that's basically how my kids behave every single night before bed, regardless of how much sugar they have or haven't ingested. The combination of a day's worth of mental stimulation and physical exertion coupled with dinner and exhaustion conspires to make the last thirty minutes before bedtime a desperate, dark time in our home.

At least for the adults. 

During this time, the need I feel to put my kids away for the day is at its peak, and yet, in a painful twist of irony, my kids' resistance to being put there is at its peak. 

They spin in circles and jump on the mini-trampoline. They insist on one last snack and one last drink of water. They refuse to brush their teeth. They finally brush their teeth, but then ask for more snacks, get them, and insist on brushing their teeth again. 

There is nagging, begging, yelling, and non-compliance. There is streaking through the house naked while an adult chases them down, madly waving pajamas about like a Spanish bull wrangler with a red cloth. There are exchanges of stupid jokes about pee and poo followed by uproarious laughter (theirs, not ours). There is frustration, eye rolling, pleading, and finally yelling (ours, not theirs).

All day long, my kids fight with each other. But at bedtime, they are aligned against their parents as one. I realized this when I overheard Isaac speaking to Paige and referring to me and Geoff in a conspiratorial whisper as "they."

The battle lines are drawn, and each night is a stark reminder of just how bright those lines really are.

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