We seem to have a universal lack of sleep at our house. Gone are the university days when we stayed up late studying only to find ourselves safely ensconced under cosy covers at noon the next day. When I became a parent I suddenly found that I had become …. what’s the word? …. scheduled!
In the days of freedom anything went. If I was tired I’d sleep. If I felt like recreating I’d go to a movie – no need to check showtimes or ratings. If I was hungry, I’d open a can of tuna, squeeze a dollop of mayo on top, and pick up a fork. I didn’t even have to recycle the can after my impromptu picnic as there was never any little elves staring at me with wide horrified eyes!
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Kids train parents! If any of you disagree with me on this one, please let me know. Before you casually hit the “comment” button, stop and think about it for minute. Are you actually convinced you do have power over your offspring …. or are you just living in denial.
Let me give you some examples ….
Think about preparing a meal. You dish out the food on everyone’s plate, you all sit down happily to your repast and … “Mommy – can I have some more mashed potatoes please?” In your mind you measured out the perfect amounts – happily there were no extras to sit in bowls in the fridge and rot – and you have not one mouthful to spare. Actually … you do. You have what’s on your plate. Hungry or not, what would you likely say:
a) “You can have it if you want, but I already spat on it.”
b) Yell, “It’s mine and you aint gettin’ any of it!”
c) Produce your best crocodile tears to accompany the words, “It’s not fair, I don’t ever get what I want!”
d) Quickly gobble them down at high speed, not waiting to swallow so that you can get in as much as you can. Fait accompli!
e) Sigh … and hand ’em over!
Answer: Hmmm. See – I was right! On to the next question:
When you find out that every child in your kid’s class has been “asked” to bring a Barbie to your little wonder’s birthday party, and grandma has been cajoled into the latest Barbie movie, you:
a) Gently explain that you care about her self-esteem and body image, and hand her a Kleenex to drown her tears
b) Say, “Cool! I wonder how many Barbie’s it would take for Mythbusters to light a bonfire in October?”
c) Warn the mothers, and post a Barbie-proof “bouncer” at the door to ward off disreputable guests
d) Pretend to bake a “Barbie Cake” (don’t forget to put the movie in there too!) and forget to check the oven
e) Change the birthday theme to “Malibu-Barbie-Princess-Fairy” and hand over the popcorn!
Answer: Need I say it! (For those of you who don’t have kids and think you have even the slightest chance – think again! Even AJ has been cajoled by the dulcet darlings into watching each and every Barbie movie at least twice!)
When junior climbs into your bed for the seventh time since midnight for the fourth night in a row, do you …
a) Spit out, “It’s my room. Kids are not allowed! Didn’t you read the sign!”
b) Practice your latest Karate throw, hoping they arrive intact at their bedroom door
c) Give your kid a hug while gloating in the fact that you purposefully ate garlic for dinner and didn’t brush your teeth – that’ll send ’em back in a hurry!”
d) Drowsily rally all your mental power to follow Supernanny Jo’s advice and gently lead your kid back to bed each time
e) Turn to your husband/partner and blearily growl, “It’s YOUR turn to sleep on the couch! Move it!”
Answer: See! Answer (e) is becoming a trend with you!
I hate to say it folks, but I rest my case. We like to think we’re in control … but we aren’t! We have been brainwashed – retrained into becoming newer, brighter, shinier, and more sleep-deprived! The good news is that all of this flexibility may lead to longer life. Or perhaps our new lease on life may come from the glee we experience when we see our erstwhile tormentors retrained by their own kids. Until then, in the words of climate-change scientists, “We are doomed!” Our only hope is to occasionally stick out our tongue behind the back of our juvenile taskmasters. If this doesn’t make you feel better, you could always blissfully hiss under your breath, “Just wait until you have kids of your own!”