Putting the kids to bed ... eventually

By Charles Marshall | March 10, 2010

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laughing matters charles marshallMy kids’ bedtime is 8 p.m. sharp – no exceptions, no excuses, end of story. Which means if my wife and I stay focused and start early, we usually have them in bed around 11-ish.
The process of getting the kids to bed is long and complicated. Entire civilizations have risen and fallen in the time it takes to just get them into their pajamas.

The first step is to brush teeth. This process takes about 20 minutes because after 7 p.m. my kids lose all resemblance to rational human beings and start running around like drunk monkeys. (I’m sorry, that’s not right. I mean intoxicated baboons.)

So, there I am with one of my arms around the waist of my four-year-old son who is gleefully trying to tear the shower curtain down. With my other hand I’m holding a toothbrush with just a fraction of the toothpaste that I originally put on it. The rest of the toothpaste is now decorating the bathroom, wall, tub and counter. While my son happily flops around in my arms like a fish in the bottom of a bucket, I’m randomly poking a toothbrush in the general direction of his mouth, hoping to somehow hit it when it’s open. After a while, when I feel satisfied that I’ve given it my best shot, I pronounce his teeth officially brushed and we move on to donning the jammies.

Dressing squirmy, wiggling little bodies in pajamas takes about half an hour of time, but the stress it produces probably takes about three or four weeks off my life-span.

After we man-handle the kids into their jammies, it is time for the bedtime story. The reading of the story would only take about five minutes if everyone would keep their mouths shut and just listen to the story. But for every page read, there are about 50 relevant, urgent questions that must be asked and answered before the story can continue.

“Daddy, is Curious George a bad guy?”

“What is his friend’s name?”

“Are the police going to put him in jail?”

“Is Curious George friends with Dora the Explorer?”

Sometimes I just ignore the questions and keep reading. Sometimes I ignore the questions and imagine I’m on a tropical island far, far away. Sometimes I hide in my closet until my wife gets the kids in bed.

But I digress.

Finally, when the story is read, it is prayer time. This process involves a lengthy period of time when the kids roll all over the floor intermittently mumbling scraps of prayer, with their sentences punctuated by random incidents and observations.

Dear Lord, thank you for Mommy and Daddy…” roll, roll, roll, giggle, grab the dog, giggle, “And, dear Lord, thank you for Scrappy…” roll, roll, roll, leg flops onto other child, fight breaks out, dispute resolved, prayer starts over from the beginning. “Dear Lord, thank you for Mommy and Daddy…”

At long last, the prayers are finished and it is finally time for little people to actually be in their beds. Hooray! Huzzah! Hallelujah! But no, it only looks like the job is complete. We’re still far from the finish line. It’s a lot like a cease fire in the Middle East. It’s best not to get your hopes up.

At the very instant the lights go off, and not a moment before, gastrological processes start taking place in tiny tummies that necessitate urgent trips to the bathroom. By this time, we parents are already downstairs so there is no adult supervision in the bathroom.

Consequently, entire television shows are performed in front of the bathroom mirror.

Complicated scientific experiments are conducted using running water from the faucet. Creative works of art are produced with vast amounts of toilet paper. In short, God only know what’s going on in there.

This is about the time I turn into a raging maniac and the kids sense that, if they want to see another sunrise, the hour has truly come for them to get into bed.

Then, finally … finally I can get some peace. It seems to me there are two types of peace: the kind that comes from without and the kind that comes from within.

There is a peace that comes from having the house quiet and the kids in bed. I really like that kind of peace, but to tell you the truth, that kind of peace is cheap and easily fractured.

The other kind of peace is much more desirable. It comes from having an intimate relationship with our creator and knowing he is close at hand with only our best interest at heart. Yes, it takes some effort sometimes to find one’s way to that peace and to hold on to it, but unlike the external peace, internal peace is always available for the asking.

“Great peace have they who love your law and nothing can make them stumble.” Ps. 119:165 (NIV).

But right now I need to head upstairs to turn off the water faucet and restock the toilet paper. When my kids grow out of this stage, I’ll bet the Charmin company goes out of business.

 © 2010 Charles Marshall. Charles Marshall is a nationally known Christian comedian and author. Visit his Web site at http://www.charlesmarshallcomedy.comor contact him via e-mail at charles@charlesmarshallcomedy.com.