PARENTING PERSPECTIVES: Our reporter is embedded deep in the War on Bedtime. Here's the latest from the front lines.
FARGO — Our children are at their most precious as they set off for the Land of Zzz's. Mom and Dad, smiling and happy and still wearing their unwrinkled daytime clothes read from a big book of fairy tales, sing a favorite lullaby, then lightly tousle their little one's hair as their eyelids grow heavy and they slip into deep, quiet slumber.
Then Mom and Dad tiptoe out for an hour of TV and polite conversation before they, too, sink softly into the fuzzy bliss of...
*Emergency Broadcast System alarm blares*
"We interrupt this diaper commercial to bring you the following report from the front lines of parenthood, where simmering tensions over bedtime continue to escalate into intense disputes. Here's Kris Kerzman with our report."
Thank you, Kelly. I'm here outside my two-year-old's room where you can plainly see the aftermath of the latest in a string of nights punctuated by intense bedtime unrest.
As you can see, books, Legos, dirty clothes and more are strewn about after yet another night of protests. I just stepped on one of the Legos, Kelly, and it was one of those little pointy ones and, of course, I'm not wearing socks because I thought I, too, was going to bed and wearing socks to bed, as we all know, just feels ... weird.
These latest protests began in response to the 7 p.m. screen-time sanctions Mom and I put into place when school started. A dispute over the usage of a contraband iPad for a pretend game about a stuffed animal zoo then began to intensify between 8-year-old Edith and 2-year-old Anton. Here's some footage:
Anton: "That's MINE!"
Edith: "Anton! I was playing with that!"
Tensions ratcheted up once again just before 8 p.m. when Mom and I issued a Time for Jammers decree with an emphasis on Brushing Your Teeth. The response was swift and pointed from Anton, who issued the following statement: quote, I don't want to, I don't want to, unquote.
Eight-year-old Edith complied with the Jammers order but resisted doing her bedtime reading requirement, claiming, and I'm quoting here again, Kelly: quote, this book is dumb, how can this Stanley boy get flattened and not die? Why doesn't he squoosh wider? What about his bones? Unquote.
"That wasn't the end of it, though, was it, Kris?"
Not at all, Kelly. Negotiations between mom and Edith eventually succeeded and they were safely relocated to Edith's room for bedtime reading, but this became a point of contention for Anton, who is on record emitting sustained high-pitched screams and saying "I want Mama" for 15 solid minutes.
Bilateral negotiations ensued but remained tenuous as Anton flatly refused a generous incentives package that included a Star Wars book and a bedtime snack. His position then wavered between demanding to watch something and reading something he picked out, so I struggled through about 45 minutes of "Peter Rabbit," Kelly, and a delinquent anthropomorphic bunny doesn't exactly rev my engine at 9 p.m.
Then there was another shocking turn of events as he just got up and started playing with trucks, Kelly, constituting a complete breakdown of bedtime order.
"Shocking. What happened next, Kris?"
Well, I fell asleep and woke up 15 minutes later when he slammed "Peter Rabbit" into my groin.
And that's the collected works edition, Kelly. Several hundred pages. It was a full-on Beatrixing.
I then proceeded to doze off and wake up about five times before he finally bent to sleep pressures at about 10 p.m., making the entire episode about three hours.
"Incredible. Would you say we are now witnessing a bedtime crisis, Kris? ... Kris? ... Uh, we seem to have lost Kris, who appears to have cleared a spot in the Legos on the hallway floor and fallen asleep using two Beanie Boos for a pillow."