By Guest Blogger Ginny Olson
We’re potty training little brother right now. Which entails saying things like, “You’re a big boy now!”
This is met with wails of protest from the bigger boy in the house. Who likes to remind us that’s he almost 4. Age, height, the big boy/big girl label are really the only status symbols for the preschool set. And they guard these fiercely.
I had to do something to reinstate the status quo. To ensure big brother didn’t sabotage little brother’s right of potty passage.
So I escorted big brother into his bedroom, pointed at his stool-turned-bedside-table and instructed him to drag it across the floor to his dresser. I then honored his monkey-esque climbing skills and told him to shimmy on up to the top and turn on his lamp.
This was followed by a speech about independence and responsibility. How he’d earned the right to control his destiny. Let there be light.
He was thrilled and spent all day practicing. Up, down. On, off. Up, down. On, off.
He also discovered other things he could do with the stool. Such as reaching his piggy bank (and dumping all the coins onto the couch. We’ll find quarters til he goes to college.) Or treasure-hunting on top of the frig by crazy-balancing the stool on top of a kitchen chair…
I forgot about the lamp.
Bedtime came at 7pm like always.
Those of you with 3-year-olds know that bedtime is a whacked out game of bingo.
“B4….B4…” As in B4 I go to sleep, Mommy, I want a drink. “P2…P2…” As in Oops, I just noticed that I have to P2, Mommy. “C5…C5…” As in Oh, and, Mommy, I C5 books I want you to read tonight.
This game is pretty interminable. And tends to be played very loudly. After the first request, I try to fix myself something to eat. But just as I’m pulling the dish out of the microwave, request #2 comes screaming down the hall. Never mind the constant reminders of YOUR BROTHER IS SLEEPING.
Strangely enough, that evening I managed to eat dinner, read a book and enjoy some wine. Til I had to pee. At 9:15pm. That’s when I noticed an odd glow coming from down the hall…
Yep, he was in his room with the lamp on.
I marched in, ready to do battle. But he was thrilled to see me.
He was so beyond tired he couldn’t fathom how to get out of bed to turn the light off. Instead, he’d tried to rally and play with a fire truck in a very drunk, dizzy kind of way. He looked at me with bloodshot eyes, transmitting, “Help me, OB1, you’re my only hope.” And silently pleading, “For the love of God, woman, turn off the lamp.”
CLICK. He was out like a light.
We went through the responsibility speech again the next day. He agreed to the terms and conditions. Without reading them, of course (does anyone ever read them?) And he went on with his day trying to hold it together. (Not very well. Because: sleep deprived.)
He was thrilled when 7pm came around. Ah, sweet Jesus, bedtime!
This kid is bone tired.
I forgot about the lamp.
Um, hello, 10pm. TURN OFF THE LIGHT.
I didn’t actually say that. I sailed down the hall and confiscated the lamp.
You can have it back when you’re 10. Or maybe when I figure out how to use one of those fancy, remote-controlled, light bulb thingys.
In the meantime, son, I’ll teach you how to cut up your chicken nuggets with a steak knife. Because that’ll definitely give you a leg up on little brother.
Ginny Olson is the author of the blog MothersRest.com, a love letter to moms, both new and seasoned, journeying from sleep deprived to joy-arrived. When not riding-herd over two small male children, Ginny works full time at a global nonprofit that specializes in leadership development and teaches Marketing for Nonprofits at the local university.
Ginny’s essays have appeared in the Greensboro News & Record, Piedmont Parent and Triad Moms on Main, as well as several mom blogs. You can follow MothersRest on Facebook.
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