He said it! Dear God almighty, he said it! This is the day I've been waiting for. For the third time. The last time. But it counts as much as the first two times count.
"Dad, I can go to bed by myself." That's what my 3-year-old just told me. He didn't ask me to read him one more book. He didn't cry and try to get me to stay until he fell asleep. He didn't try to tell me that my butt stinks or that I'm a lousy father. He told me to go one, get outta here, he's got this.
This has been going on for a while and as I know a lot of parents, thus making me an expert through personal experience, they do the exact same thing. So this isn't such a massive failure on my part as it is a failure on all our parts as parents. Please someone take the blame with me here, it's difficult to walk this road alone.
Alright, I will admit it. I should have been more strict at bedtime. I should have demanded that my boy go to sleep by himself. He should put himself to bed, he should tell himself his own stories and he should fight his own monsters in the closet. I'm weak. He would look at me and plead and I'll be honest, on this one I just didn't have the heart to tell him no. I wanted to tell him no. I wanted to explain to him that it was time to grow up a bit here and go to bed without me in the room. But I couldn't. I couldn't do it and look him in the eye.
I did it with the other kids for the most part. My oldest would actually just get up, at age 3, announce that she was tired and was going to bed. When naps were cut out, she seemed to know here limits. My 9-year-old son just wanted to go with the flow. I said it was bedtime, he said ok and that was it.
Oh sure, I had to come down on them a little bit. I used to keep a lawn chair in the hallway that I would sit in so that when they tried to sneak out their doors, I was right there. Boom, busted, turn around and suck it up buttercup. But on the third one, I found that I just didn't have that in me anymore.
We tried other things. I tried making his room special. Gave him his own special big boy sheets and big boy pillow. I explained why mommies and daddies need time alone together downstairs. I explained that mommy wanted daddy to watch a show which she described as a "character study" and that this would make daddy cry. People want to see daddy cry as much as daddy wants to watch a dialogue driven show about problems that seem to be easily fixed if someone just talked to someone else. But I suppose that show would only last ten minutes which should free up tons of space for advertising and dad crying.
None of that worked and every night he would holler, cry and basically do everything he could to get us to stay with him until he fell asleep. And in our weakness, we did. Because honestly, who doesn't love bed? Bed is great, bed is my favorite. Bed is where I get to be a Viking. It wasn't like he was asking me to snake the toilet which is gross and foul and the only dialog happening there can't be put on any primetime show.
But tonight he wanted to go to bed alone and that's the victory. He said the words and now I'm going to go downstairs and....
I don't know what I'm going to do but's it's going to be awesome and adult. I will pay my taxes while thinking about how to maximaze the kids college accounts.
Or I'll sneak back up and go to bed. One of those two.