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Lecturus Interruptus

Tonight during the typical ridiculous bedtime routine, John got stern with Quinn, which caused Quinn to cry and make loud accusations of child abuse like only a kid can who has never been abused. "He scared me!" he sobbed as he clutched my hand on his way back from the third trip to the bathroom where he'd hidden, giggling in rebellion behind the shower curtain and had caused John's patience levies to break unexpectedly. My own were rumbling and creaking beneath the pressure of my fatigue and frustration, and I squeaked out through my tightened vocal chords, "well, Quinn...dad was angry at the way you were acting, and because you ran away when you know it's bed time. So he yelled. Now it's time for bed." I picked him up and told him to take a deep breath, but the hysterics continued, so I started walking toward the bedroom and telling him it was time to calm down and stay in bed.

Bryce was having none of this "be the quiet kid in bed" nonsense, so as I walked into the room with gasping, sniffling Quinn, he hopped up, whimpering, then wailing, "I THINK I JUST FEEL LIKE I'M GOING TO START CRYING!" My patience levies cracked and the superdome doors began to open for the hordes of potential victims, and I turned around, still holding Quinn: "No! You are only crying to get attention because Quinn is upset. Get in bed and be quiet RIGHT NOW!" Then I realized Quinn was lapping this whole thing up, and luckily we were next to his bed, so I plopped him down, pulled his covers up and said, "Stay in bed this time. Do not get up again."

"But dad scared me and hurt my feelings!" More crying.

"Quinn, I'm sorry your feelings were hurt. Dad did get angry because you disobeyed and ran away and yelled and hid after it was bedtime."

Bryce sat up in bed, and I continued. "You know why it was so frustrating to him? Because EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, we go through the same thing! We do this whole elaborate bedtime routine - stories, maybe a puzzle or short game, bath, teeth brushing, pajamas, hugs and kisses, lights out - and then you both get up and run around the house and yell and act wild!"

Bryce said, "Well, I don't know how to go to sleep. I haven't slept in a million years. You'll have to teach me!"

I kept on. "Bedtime is not playtime! Bedtime is time to be quiet and go to sleep! When dad and I tuck you in and turn off the lights, we want to go get ready for tomorrow and get our own rest. But EVERY NIGHT we end up having to come up here and put you guys back in bed 20 times! We end up running up and down the stairs like...! Like...!"

I had cut myself off with my own boring yet impassioned lecture, but Bryce wasn't going to let my pompous adult mentality stop this intense discussion: "Like escalator people!? Fixing the escalator!? With tools? Running up and down the escalator going bang, bop, bam!?"

The lights were off and I thought I could get away with cracking a smile, but the smile was accompanied by an unwanted breath of audible whispery laughter and after that the only lesson the kids came away with was, mom is a wuss. I know because the next two minutes involved both kids mock hammering the footboards of their respective beds, demonstrating escalator people (since I apparently thought that bit was so earth-shatteringly funny) while I kicked myself for showing a sign of weakness at such a critical time. If Chris Farley were there to dramatize how I felt, there would be a loud forehead-slapping session followed by some guttural and angry exclamations of "STUPID!"

So I give up, people. I. Give. Up. How can I be an effective dictator when the court jester clearly has effortless control over me?

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