Tonight, my husband and I made the mistake of leaving the house after dinner. For anyone else out there with small children, that are somewhat scheduled like mine, then you will know for sure that leaving the house after dinner is almost always a mistake. I would say, 99.9% of the time.
But, Sunday nights are time for family. Or visiting friends. Or taking cookies to someone. So occasionally, we feel brave. We ate dinner a little earlier, to prepare to take a cake over to my husband’s Great Aunt’s house. She’s like another Grandma to us, and she lives close. She wasn’t able to make it to my little man’s 2nd birthday yesterday, so we thought we’d take her over a piece of our ginormous cake we had left over.
The plan was in place. We would pop in. Visit for a minute. We even let the kids take one toy each so as to not destroy any of her breakable vases that she has sitting within easy reach of tiny hands, and we would enjoy a piece of cake and be home by 7pm. Just in time for the bedtime routine. Easy enough, right?
But, let’s just say that as usual, it didn’t go according to plan, and we found ourselves headed home at 8pm. Their bedtime. Or in other words, we had just created our own mini version of crazy-town that would be taking place the moment we left her house.
I’ve noticed a pattern to this crazy, at least. I mean, it’s predictable. Keep kids up past their bedtime, and you are bound to notice some of the same behavior in your own children.
Here are the five stages of crazy when your kids are out past their bedtime:
Stage 1: Maniacal behavior. This usually happens in the car on the way home. The kids are high energy. Singing, screaming, laughing. Tonight? The game was fake crying. That’s what they decided to play in the car on the way home. They would fake cry until we would say, “What’s wrong!?” in true alarm, and then they would die laughing. Everything is peachy and fun while you’re still out. You’re usually smiling sweetly to yourself in the front seat while doing deep breaths to try to block out the shrill cries of delight in the back. After all, they’re having fun, so what’s wrong with that? But, then you walk through that front door, and with undeniable force, you are faced with…
Stage 2: Denial. They know they are going to be forced to bathe, or get pajamas on or brush teach against their will, so they just ignore you and pretend like it isn’t happening. The constant reminders to get undressed, or go potty, or take their shoes off go unnoticed. You feel like freaking out, but you manage to remain calm. You finally try physical force. To combat this, they flop, or go limp so that you have to do all the work to get their tiny bodies undressed. Then they’re completely naked and vulnerable. They realize they’ve lost, so they enter….
Stage 3: Meltdown mode. They cry at the tiniest thing. You might say something innocent like, “Will you move over here so I can wash your hair?” and they exclaim something that makes no sense like, “But, I’m too itchy!!!” and they sob through the rest of the bath, or teeth brushing, or story time until you finally reach….
Stage 4: Exhaustion. Both you and them. They want it over, and so do you. Unfortunately, they still need fourth meal, or water, or they forgot to do their homework all weekend, or you leave the room and they need a kleenex, or blanket or or or or or or or……!!! You work hard to cater to their every need to avoid more of stage 3 until they finally enter….
Stage 5: Sleep. They are finally in bed, and you want to cheer, and shout for joy, and possibly watch your favorite TV show, but you realize that the tiny little people sucked every ounce of energy out of you. All you want to do is close your eyes and go to sleep yourself. You resolve to have a social life in 10 years, and vow to never leave the house past 4 pm again. You turn to your husband and remark, “Why do we even bother?” And, he replies sadly, “I have no idea.”
But, the real crazy? That’s when you do it over again next weekend and expect that the next time it might be different.
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