You know what’s annoying? You wake up to face the day aglow with the fact that you have achieved what had seemed so unattainable only a day before– parenting nirvana–and then someone says the wrong damn thing and just like that–you lose your bliss.
I remember once, on an unseasonably warm day, as Yoan played in the park attempting feats on the slide that had me biting my fingernails to bits, my mind drifted to the thought of just how lucky I was that my kid had made it past age three relatively unscathed. He never fell head-first in the toilet or mistook the peach-colored eco-friendly bathroom cleaner for juice. Our flat-screen remains where it has been for the past two years despite alarmist predictions that his out-sized curiosity would override any shred of restraint, and Yoan would drag the TV from the shelf, cover himself in innumerable boo-boos, and make us yearn for our 21 inch screen TV–you know the one that looks naked without a VCR underneath it, and no one would want, even if you were giving it away. Yep, my day was looking pretty, pretty good until she walked by me and said: “Jesus! Five minutes, honey.” Then to her friend, “He goes to sleep by 7:30 and I get so much done!” Zing!
Normally, I would have nodded, smiled even, with understanding. But not that day. I resented the implication that I lacked discipline, that Yoan was lacking the adequate amount of sleep, that his growth would be stunted! I couldn’t help it; my mind just went there. I thought about bumping her off or, more accurately, getting someone to do it for me. My anger quickly evaporated into shame that I would even think about leaving sweet Jesus motherless, but I just as quickly got really pissed that this woman had driven me to violence–imaginary, notwithstanding. But I couldn’t blame her, really. These issues–the fact that my son wouldn’t sleep as early as I’d like, that he bounced off the walls and floors and every imaginable surface leading up to bed time–were mine, and my partner’s.
We thought it was a great idea to have him watch a little TV while I cooked dinner. I know, right. Remember that whole bit about not sleeping with the TV on because the blue light made it impossible to get quality rest? Well, it holds true for little ones, too. It’s not exactly relaxing for kids, even if you’ve traded in the action-packed heroics of the Super Friends for the more sedate Pepa Pig. (This family of pigs has British accents! And I’ve always found Liam Neeson’s voice quite…soothing, though Margaret Thatcher’s not so much.)
Anyhoo, if I’m going to cut out television most nights, I suppose I’ll have to put an end to Yoan’s pre- and post-dinner ritual of (break) dancing to whatever’s on Fordham University radio. The thing is, even though I may whine about it, I really love that ritual. And, the kid’s got some great moves! And lately he’s gotten it into his head that we should do this or that together. Why? Because “we’re A FAMILY, mommy.” This he says as if I’m a complete idiot, or worse, a barbarian. Nursery school is, believe it or not, turning out to be a better investment than we had even hoped. Ah, the fruit of knowledge: it’s a double-edged sword, isn’t it?
So tomorrow we’re making a fresh start. We’re going to take it slow, though, and limit the dance-off before bed. I can’t promise we’ll cut TV out entirely. I will go. Stark. Raving. Mad if I take away that option completely. It’s not happening. But we’ll make a new bedtime routine work and we’re going to have to do it together. Why? Because we’re a family, dammit.