For almost 15 years now, the Jenworld household schedule has been largely daughter-centric.
In the beginning, everything revolved around the eating and sleeping needs of the small creatures whose wrath would envelop us if we changed anything. Consequently, we were so consistent you could have set your watch by our movements.
Then, after a few years, the girls’ schedules eased up as they got older and bigger, so that hell did not rain down on us over a missed nap. We were able to loosen up a tiny bit.
And then it got so that we could mess around with the meal schedules and no one would end up lying on the floor kicking and screaming because dinner was late. Of course, there were plenty of dinners when someone ended up in fits on the floor because her foods were touching on the plate or there was a single flake of a suspicious herb on her chicken or because she only wanted to eat pink foods, but by golly the timing of it all wasn’t the cause of our winter of discontent.
The bedtime routine was one of those things that really held firm for a while. We were never song and dance parents at bedtime. No original lullabies or rhythmic gymnastics routines for us in order to entertain a sleepy toddler. We kept things short and sweet. Because when 7:00 or 7:30 or 8:00 rolled around, we were done, — D-O-N-E, I tell you — with parenting for the day and wanted our little ones to get some much-needed sleep so that we adults could have a desperately-wanted break before our own much-needed bedtime.
Hence, at bedtime, we would read a pre-determined number of books, hug and kiss our daughters, tuck them in, unwrap their arms from around our necks, and make sure they had whatever stuffed friends they needed to get through the long night. If it took 36 creatures to get the job done, then Curious George, Madeline, the Care Bears, and all their furry kindred were invited for the sleep party.
As the girls have gotten older, bedtimes have gotten later, to the point that sometimes I go to bed the same time they do. Or on the weekend they might stay up late watching something with Pete, while I’ll be the first person to hit the pillow. But one constant has always been that Pete is the last person up the stairs at night.
Until a week ago.
Pete was sick and feeling crummy the weekend before this past one. On that Saturday night, he decided to go to bed around the same time I did, but the girls were in the middle of a DVD. Rather than wait up for them, for the first time ever, we kissed them both and told them to turn off the lights when they came upstairs. They looked a bit shocked, but they did as they were told. In fact, I think we hastened their bedtimes simply by being upstairs already.
That first has not been repeated. Yet.
There are, of course, other firsts coming. It is an inevitable fact of parenting. There are always more firsts. First smile, first tooth, first step, first day of kindergarten, first this, first that… tempus fugit... and suddenly we’re looking at firsts that were never mentioned in Lamaze class or What to Expect, the Toddler Years.
And with one girl heading to high school in less than six months and the other one becoming a teenager is a bit over six months, more firsts are on their way. I was on the phone with the high school guidance counselor yesterday discussing Grace’s academic schedule for the coming year when the topic of driver’s ed came up. Driver’s freaking ed, y’all. Guess who’s going to be eligible for her learner’s permit in one year and 25 days? And then will be eligible for her driver’s license nine months after that? Not that I am counting.
Those are firsts I am not quite ready to contemplate.