Why is bedtime such a surprise?

Bed Time Surprise Joe Capell
Bed Time Surprise Joe Capell

Every night the kids go to bed. Every. Single. Night.

And yet, almost every night it seems to come as a surprise. “What? Bed time? You’ve got to be kidding me, right? Are you trying to tell me you actually expect me to go to bed? This is unheard of! I won’t stand for this!”

Bed time for the kids at our house is 8 p.m. The two older kids know this. If you were to ask them, “When is your bed time?” they would easily and quickly answer, “Eight o’clock.” And yet, when bed times rolls around it is met with shock, surprise and disdain, as if it were the Spanish Inquisition. (No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!)

The first step in going to bed for the kids is putting on their pajamas. Once they get over the initial shock of bedtime, it’s not much of a fight to get them to put on pajamas. (Why no fight? My theory is that everyone likes to put on comfy clothes, and what’s more comfy than pajamas?)

Everything else, though, is back to being an utter shock and surprise.

Me: “Did you brush your teeth?”
Them: “What? Brush my teeth? What are you talking about? I’ve never heard of this ‘brush your teeth’ that you speak of.”
Me: “Every night. Every single night I tell you to brush your teeth. It really shouldn’t be a surprise.”
Them: “Well, okay, I’ll brush my teeth. But it’s really not fair when you give these last-minute orders like this.”

And then, after playing the surprise card, they dig in with the delay tactics:

“Wait. Can I have a drink?”
“But, I have to go potty first.”
“Not yet. I have to find my stuffed bear.”
“Seriously. I really have to go to the bathroom.”
“Can I read in bed for a while?”
“I have to go to the bathroom.” (Me: “Didn’t you just go?”) “Yes, but I have to go again!”

They’ll try just about anything to prolong the non-bed part of the evening just a little bit longer up to and including going to the bathroom four times between 7:50 p.m. and 8:20 p.m.

But, eventually, they do go to bed. And then, morning comes and it starts all over again. “What? Morning? You’ve got to be kidding me, right? Are you trying to tell me you expect me to get out of bed? This is unheard of! I won’t stand for this!”

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