I was flipping through my HBO channels one night and happened upon Bill Cosby’s classic standup comedy special “Bill Cosby: Himself”. It brought back all sorts of cherished childhood memories of the Scott family, packed in the family car, laughing hysterically while listening to a recorded version of the performance. This was the first time I had watched it as a parent. It was not only still hilarious but also eye-opening.
Bill Cosby must have seen into my future when he wrote that show, because his The Same Thing Happens Every Night routine is my life. See every night my oldest daughter puts on the bedtime performance of a lifetime. No matter what sort of punishment she gets the next night it’s the same thing.
Since the birth of our youngest daughter, I’ve taken on the primary responsibility of putting my three year old daughter to bed. When I say it’s a daily epic struggle I might be understating it. It starts with the announcement that it’s her bedtime and proceeds immediately downhill from there. Yes, three year olds are special little people.
When she’s told it’s her bedtime she starts negotiating for more time. “Can I watch one more show?” “I’m thirsty.” “I’m not tired.” And so on, occasionally we get a full blow tantrum. Once she accepts that bedtime is inevitable she starts working other angles to prolong her evening. For example, when we go to feed her fish she always drops the food pellet on the floor. Instead of getting another pellet she has to look for the one she dropped. This happens every night.
After the fish is fed, she slowly ambles upstairs to her bedroom to get undressed. I think it takes her an hour to walk up the steps. Why it takes so long I don’t know. My theory is she’s deciding what part of her body hurts. Every night when she reaches the top of the stairs she announces a pain in her selected body part. Whether it’s an arm, leg, nose, hand, toe, finger, tongue something always hurts. Of course once she gets to her room and discovers her toys the pain magically goes away. When I remind her she’s supposed to be undressing the battle of the clothes begins and the body pains return.
Once she’s undressed and sitting on the potty she breaks into song. Her songs are totally made up and generally a mix between nursery rhymes, songs from Ziggy Marley’s Family Time CD, and random bits of whatever songs she heard that day. Song time totally distracts her from the fact that it’s supposed to be potty time. So she’ll sit there, singing or talking until I ask her if she’s done.
Then it’s teeth brushing time. This part used to be quick until she discovered her image in the mirror. Now, when she goes to spit in the sink she has to stop to admire herself in the mirror, make faces, dance and again sing songs. When I gently (okay not so gently) remind her to step down so I can finish brushing her teeth she blurts out, “I’m looking at myself in the mirror, daddy!”
When I finally get her into the bathtub the crying starts. See she doesn’t like water on her face because it gets in her eyes even though her eyes are closed. When the bath is finished she, with her eyes still closed because she won’t open her eyes until I dry her face with a towel, makes her way around the tub gathering her toys to put them away. I’m amazed that this is actually the quickest part of the bath time process. No matter where the toys are even with her eyes closed she can still find them and put them away.
Once she’s dried off and dressed for bed we read a story. She long ago learned that if she asks me a question I’ll try to answer it. So every bedtime story is punctuated by a million questions that serve no purpose to other than to extend her night.
Then when her good night story is finished and she’s said her prayers (which she conveniently forgets halfway through then says perfectly when prodded) she looks at me with her big brown eyes, bats her long eyelashes and says, “Daaaaaddy, I love you!” It’s her way for saying thanks for putting up with this and be ready for tomorrow because we’re going to do this all over again.