Friday night. We told the kids it was time for bed and switched off the TV. My husband picked up the small boy and swung him around a bit to make him laugh but mostly to carry him up the stairs because it’s easier than telling him four hundred times to go up himself. My eldest was on her Kindle playing a game where you choose outfits for animated models from a selection of real clothes that you can really buy for huge amounts of money.
She was showing her sister and me the previous styles she’d put together, and we were ooh’ing and ahh’ing and before we knew it, ten minutes had passed by and my husband was back downstairs. Small boy was in bed, teeth done, story done, heading towards sleep. I sent the girls up then to have their reading time upstairs, and I stayed on the couch, realising that I didn’t need to go upstairs at all. Bedtime done, without leaving the room, for the first time in nine and a half years.
It’s not as big as the first steps or the first word or the weaning to solids (didn’t that get old fast) and there’s none of the emotion involved with selling the cot or starting school. It’s the kind of milestone that almost goes by unnoticed, typical of the post-baby stage.
There’s no photo on Facebook to show the first-bedtime-I-did-without-leaving-the-couch and it’s not noted down in the baby scrapbook we started with the eldest then forgot all about after six weeks. But it did make me stop and take stock and realise that the bedtime that used to take up to an hour – with stories for three, and help brushing teeth, and help getting back to bed every time they got up – doesn’t take an hour anymore. Apparently it takes ten minutes, and two out of three can just go themselves.
Another one that slipped in almost unnoticed is weekend mornings. Last Saturday, the night after the miraculous no-effort-bedtime, the small boy came in at 6.45 as is his habit. I brought him back to bed, and told him to wait until 8 o’clock and then come in. At 7.30 he came in to ask me the time (he can only tell time on the hour) and when I said there was still 30 minutes to go, he asked me to count to 60, 30 times, so he’d know when it’s 8 o’clock. He does this every weekend morning, and we have the same debate until we agree that I can count in my head, while I’m asleep.
Then I heard his big sister get up – she came in, took him by the hand, and brought him downstairs to turn on the TV. In the last few weeks, she’s figured out the complicated system with two remotes, one of which is not properly synched up with the TV. Meaning we don’t have to get up. So we had a lie-in. The two of us. At the same time.
So after nine and a half years, we had a no-effort-bedtime, followed by lie-in-at-the-same-time morning. And there’s still no picture on Facebook, no note in the scrapbook, no trumpets of any kind. In the annals of Light at the end of the Tunnel, this milestone slipped peacefully by, and sometimes peaceful milestones are the very best kind.