“I’m a superheroll.” I laugh and stop mid-stair. He grins at me. I smile back and continue up the stairs.
“Oooh. Superhero Cole. Well, superheroes go to bed so they can be super tomorrow.”
“No, not Superhero Cole. Just superheroll.” He head butts me as I deposit him into bed.
“Ooooh. OK. Well. You’ve gotta go to sleep now. It’s super late, superheroll.” I pull the train sheet up. He kicks it off and stands up. Train in one hand. Flashlight in the other.
“No go to bed. I no tired.” He gives me that kick-ball-change-hop Flashdance dance and grabs the bedpost.
And now, at 8:44pm, my wee superhero screams upstairs. I just sent Jed up. Again. Huffing and puffing, to check on the Kaiser. I write. I hear them chatting, presumably about saving the world and getting some sleep.
The Kaiser has been, for nearly three years, amazingly perfect at bedtime. In the beginning, as he snacked his way through the first weeks of life, I was up every two hours. Bottle in hand and rocking, back and forth. I knew no lullaby-sweet tunes, so sang a little jingle from the “Old Colony Furniture” commercial.* I was miserable. Irritated. Running on coffee, Marlboros, Pinot Grigio and the pale hope that someday — some glorious day — the child would sleep. And suddenly, at seven weeks old, the universe answered. The kid began sleeping five, six hours at time. I was refreshed, unbelievably joyous, and once again able to smile. Since then, bedtime has been a strange and glorious pleasure. He sleeps. He goes to bed happy, without a fight. He doesn’t wake unless he’s sick. Like his parents, the Kaiser seems to really, deeply love bed.
Trust me, I know I’m fortunate. I hear horror stories of overzealous one-year olds, dive bombing from cribs. Tales of two-year olds, sneaking out of bed and down the stairs, over and over again, to their parents’ despair. Of course, I’d like to believe that some of the perfect bedtime behavior can be credited to Jed and me. And, yeah. We do deserve some credit on that. We’ve done things wrong, but damn it, we’ve done this right.
About a year ago, when Kaiser turned two, Jed switched his crib to a toddler bed. I was aghast. I didn’t think he was ready. I knew I wasn’t ready. But Kaiser – he was cool with the change. Excited even. And then, six months ago, he made the monumental move to a big-boy bed. A full-size, normal height, real bed. Weird. It was a little earlier than I’d have liked, but hey, my sister needed our crib and I was happy to pass it along. I worried then that he’d start getting up. Why wouldn’t he? Shit, if I were him and realized I could just scoot my arse out of bed, I’d most certainly be up at all hours, readin’ books and raisin’ hell.
But he didn’t. He never has. Even tonight, amidst whining complaints and gargantuan reluctance. He stays put. I don’t get it. Does he think that when we turn off the lights, the ground turns to poop and monsters? Does he think that if he gets out of bed, we’ll come in screamin’ with silly string?
I don’t know what he thinks. Ever. So we’ve been upstairs five times to re-tuck him in and restart the CD of sleepy baby classical junk. I don’t mind. My time must be coming. The universe has let me off the hook for far too long. Looks like I’ll be battling the superhero for the foreseeable future. And you know, strangely, that’s ok.
*Want to know the song? Of course you do:
“Here at Old Colony,
We know you appreciate quality…
And that’s why we’re here.
Old Colony furnituuuuure…
As beautiful as it can be.”