"Never give up and good luck will find you." Falcor from "The NeverEnding Story"
How long does it take you to go to bed? Not fall asleep. I'm asking how much time generally passes from the moment you decide you're going to bed, until to moment your head hits the pillow? Factor in the brushing of the teeth, the walking of the dog, the final emptying of the bladder, and we're talking what? Fifteen minutes, tops?
It takes us more than one hour to get Penelope to bed. An hour. Sixty minutes. 3,600 seconds. Consider this: in the time it takes us to put our daughter to bed, AIG loses $27.9 million (based on the company's historic losses in the last quarter of 2008). Puts it all in perspective, doesn't it?
We have moved beyond negotiation and full into procrastination. She is a master at wasting time, at changing the subject, at prolonging the inevitable.
We have now built in upstairs playtime. Once we get up there, we'll pose the question, "Penelope, do you want to get ready for bed?" You have to admire her answer, for its blunt honesty: "No, I'm playing."
At this point, you have to decide how long you're willing to go. How far you're willing to push it. How late are you willing to delay the eventual cleaning of the dishes and packing of the child's meals for the next day? It's not unlike when you're waking up in the morning and you have to decide how much time you really need to get ready and still get to work on time.
You look at the clock. It reads 7:30 p.m., and you haven't even put on her pajamas yet, let alone read books or sung songs. You're in for the long haul. Now you're thinking about which chores, which guilty pleasures, which shows you've been saving up on the DVR you will sacrifice to spend more time building blocks, jumping on beds, and chasing the dog up and down the hallway.
Every little event in this Olympics involves a choice. And she is the gold medal winner when it comes to opinions. Her opinions are not only communicated, they're acknowledged and eventually, accommodated. Penelope must vet everything from choosing which sippy cup from which she'll drink her milk, to choosing which pajamas to wear, to even choosing which diaper to put on - each of them features a different smiling Sesame Street character on it. She is the ultimate decider. Don't try to override her final decision. She has the veto power that comes in the form of a fit that would scare the remainder of the pants off the Incredible Hulk.
Once the holy grail is chosen, and the diaper and pajamas are on, we move on to the oral health portion of the program. On a nightly basis, Penelope will randomly decide whether she wants her teeth brushed. If she doesn't, then the exercise of getting those pearly whites polished is messier and more aggravating than putting pants on a pig.
Next, Penelope literally hides from us. She has developed a game where she goes into the hallway and "hides." When we call for her, she magically appears in the doorway, laughing and gesticulating at our amusement and hers. And we have to perform this scene several times, eventually setting a limit. A limit that is routinely exceeded. And once that exceeded limit is enforced, crying usually ensues.
This does not even factor in the books that need to be read. Three or four minimum. Penelope not only chooses which stories will be told, she also chooses which parent will tell each story. Then, we sing songs. We set the maximum at no more than two. It's always "Hush, Little Baby" and "That's Amore." And always, she asks for a repeat performance of each. And always, we say the show, alas, must NOT go on.
It's apparent to both of us that the nighttime ritual takes exponentially longer now because Penelope is getting older, and requiring less sleep. We've managed to turn getting ready for bed into a nightly array of giggle-inducing, memory-making, adventure-seeking games and thrills. That way, we all manage to earn a good night's sleep once we do finally close the book on another day.