If you are a parent or a grandparent, you know how difficult it is to get kids to go to sleep. First of all, there is no such thing as a “It’s time to go to bed” message that you can give to your child. Kids generally have their own sleep schedules that range from “Mom! Dad! Look at me, I am a hibernating polar bear” to a pattern that rivals a raging insomniac wandering on the streets with a flask of coffee.
Even if you somehow manage to convince them to get into bed, they will plumb the depths of their active, overclocked minds and come up with excellent excuses to stay awake. After a few days, you will create a mental list of all these excuses and try to guess which they will come up with every day. But beware a child’s mind. Their neurons are more advanced than any machine learning algorithm. They will remember your answers and adjust their questions and excuses accordingly.
One part of you will marvel at their brain development but the other sleepy overworked part will instruct you to throw your hands up in the air with an exasperated sigh and you will turn to the other side and try to sleep.
If only it were that easy. Before you know it, you will hear crunching sounds, probably from the impact of their little knees with your backbone. I have lost count of the number of times I tried to use a menacing tone to utter random Japanese words like HoshinKanri, Poka-Yoke, and Seiketsu from my quality management classes. It only makes them stronger.
Let’s take a look at a few hilarious yet infuriating excuses.
I want Milk
When all the toys have returned to their boxes from the floor and the bed, and when the kids are finally tucked in and the lights are out, you will hear this seemingly innocent request. You will also hear your own words thrown back at you – words about Calcium and honey and why milk is very healthy. Never mind the fact that they refused to drink the glass of milk that you offered just 17 minutes back. After their refusal, it would have found its way to your stomach and there is probably no more milk left.
When you tell them that the cows have left the country because of their repeated requests, their crestfallen faces will almost make you regret your little charade. But with a wicked smile, they will throw aside the blanket, run to the couch, slide their little hands underneath the cushions, and retrieve a single page that has a cow’s picture on it.
They will just hold that page up and point towards the kitchen. Their expressions will say “Well, here’s a cow. Go on now, get my milk”. How do you use logic to respond to that?
I won’t sleep in this dress
This is probably coming from kids who missed their afternoon nap and are crankier than a kindergarten teacher when some parents send expensive chocolates to the entire class and there Is absolute mayhem when the packet is opened (I salute those teachers, I can never be that patient).
My son insists on changing his entire attire almost immediately after my first inadvertent snore. I weakly try to fend off his request and tell him that there’s a lion on the floor. I even show a Google AR lion projected on the floor. Now he has decided that he wants to play with the lion. The lion goes away when I turn off the screen and he starts to cry. Between his sobs, he says “Dad, you still haven’t changed my dress”. I rummage through the cupboard and pull out a random shirt. He immediately rejects it and wants me to turn on the light so that he can choose.
It is actually a secret ploy that he employs to activate his sibling agent. Once the lights come on, the aforementioned sibling suddenly lifts her head up like a cobra (she was pretending to be asleep) and well, mayhem ensues. All mythological epics are acted out on the bed and all our pillows and blankets are gone, taken as props for their grand play. To enact different characters, they demand more clothes. It is a vicious circle. Don’t fall for it.
Okay, you will fall for it, eventually.
It’s too quiet
Kids love music. Or any distraction that comes with background music. They will hum their favorite tunes with cute lyrics that are in a different language and continue this late into the night. Amid the darkness and warmth of their beds, they suddenly realize that everything is all too quiet.
They want to listen to some music. You bow to their wishes and try to play some soothing music on YouTube. Their eyelids start to droop. Just when they are about to fall asleep, the guy from the Food Delivery ad reaches out from the screen and shakes your kid awake. You try to silence him but it’s too late. The kids now complain that it’s too loud and start imitating the ad. You can’t decide whose narration is more irritating – the guy from the ad, or your own creations. But they are your own creations. If you can’t beat them, join them. You get in on the act and attempt terrible mimicry. Congratulations. You have just lost two hours of your sleep.
I am an owl
Can you get your head around this excuse? They have realized that all usual excuses have been exhausted. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Their imagination runs wild. What creature doesn’t sleep at night? An owl, of course. And you thought they didn’t pay attention when you taught them about nocturnal creatures. As I said earlier, nothing with kids is complete without an accompanying sound. They start to hoot like an owl, and soon, the whole neighborhood is awake (with their kids too). You suddenly want to disown your own kids when you see angry stares from the parents next door, who probably wanted to scare their kids by making them listen to the owl hooting through the window. You sheepishly smile at them, turn around and try to look angry and fail miserably. Your kids win this round. In fact they win every round.
I want a tortoise
I can’t even begin to explain this one. And the list continues with camels, bats (the animals, not the toys), wolves and so on. Why should they ask you to get them a tortoise now, at midnight, rather than at 5 pm when they were making funny faces at your boss during your video conference call? I often get sent out of the bedroom to fetch an idli or dosa (rice pancakes) for my son, who makes this request with a giggle and a twinkle in his eye.
He uses this phrase only when I start singing to make him sleep. He also tells me to hurry up with the tortoise (ironic, isn’t it?) and wants to feed the pancakes to the poor animal. The optimist in me is proud of the kid’s imagination and creativity. But my spouse certainly isn’t. Especially when she has to deal with all these excuses AND a snoring husband.
After this almighty struggle, they finally nod off and settle into their favorite sleeping positions. There they are, your little angels. Cute, cuddly and so quiet. You miss them already. But suddenly, one of them turns and you freeze. You hold your breath and pray. They go back to sleep and you sigh with relief. The clock face mockingly reads 2 AM and you are too tired to even calculate the number of hours of sleep left. You hit the sack and their faces swim in front of you, in your dreams. You smile in your sleep. They are still worth all the energy spent.
What are some of your favorite excuses? What tricks do your kids use? Do let me know in the comments below.
If this made you laugh uncontrollably (as I said before, I am the eternal optimist), please check out my other blog posts. Here are a few.
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The images are from Pixabay.