Both of my daughters are experts at delaying bedtime. I mean, they have got to be members of an elite group of professional stallers. They are manipulative evil geniuses.

It doesn’t seem to matter when we start the bedtime shuffle, they always end up falling asleep way later than I want.

We’re totally asleep, Mom.

Nobody ever has to go potty. Nope. I mean, come on. They just went after school! Four short hours ago! Did you know you cannot force a child to pee? Nope. Can’t. Even when you both know said child has to. She will stare you down with steely eyes, gritted teeth, and crossed legs. She will look at you as if to say, “ALL DAY, MAN. I can do this ALL DAY.”

Then there’s the brushing of the teeth. Neither of them wants to until I offer terrifying reminders of sugar bugs. Then they both want to brush together. Fine. We have two sinks in their bathroom. Negative. They both want the same sink. The same stool. The same toothbrush (ew). We slog through that and I have my nightly fight with Audrey about checking her work because hi, she’s two. I’m pretty certain she’s just sucking on the toothbrush.

Next up? Flossing. Surprisingly, this is the easiest portion of the oral hygiene ordeal. They fight over who goes first (weirdos) and which flossers they want to use, but it pales in comparison to what comes next.

Books. I love that they love books. I do. But, they want to pick out 10 books each every single night and I just… I can’t. And then we argue over whose room we’re going to read in. Then there’s I-want-to-sit-next-to-Mommy/Daddy. Or stop-touching-me. Or why-won’t-she-hug-me.

And nobody sits still during books. They squirm all around and interrupt and talk over me and talk to each other about entirely different things or ask if tomorrow is a school day or ask for milk or tell me how much they love me (see? GENIUS.) or read different books to themselves. Aloud.

Who cares about Pinkalicious?

After we settle the but it’s still light out debate, we shuffle off to separate rooms where the real games begin. This first part? Merely the warm up, guys.

I put Audrey in her bed with a book and then go into Liv’s room to tuck her in.

Olivia: I’m not even tired. I need another pillow. I want to lay on the other side. Where’s my blankey? I need <insert whatever stuffed animal we haven’t seen in four months>. I’m afraid of the dark. Did we feed my fish? Can you scratch my back? I’m hungry. We didn’t read my books. How are clouds made? What is heaven?

And she’s the easy one.

Audrey starts calling for me at this point, so I turn off Liv’s light, kiss her good night and move on to The Master.

Audrey: I need my blankey. I need two blankeys. I need milk. I need water. My buns hurt. I don’t like these underwear. I need different jammies. I want to wear my dress. I need my new Crocs. I don’t want to go to bed. Can we rock? Can you snuggle me? I have a boo boo. I need a band aid. A Dora band aid. I need a snack. I need some medicine. I need to give Daddy a kiss. Can we have a new baby? Did we feed my fish? Can we call Grandma? I have to go poops.

BOOM. She’s got me. I can deflect almost everything else, but poops? She knows she’s got me every time. I can’t let her go to the bathroom in her bed. Mostly because that’s just one more mess for me. So I take her to the bathroom, where she requests my company, and she sits down and asks me to hold her hand. I do. She smiles at me sweetly and says, “Nice to meet you. What’s your name?”  MY NAME IS PEE AND GO TO BED, DAMN IT.

Sometimes she is in and out of the bathroom three times before she actually goes (she always eventually goes). Then it’s back to bed and the above commentary begins anew.

If she sufficiently beats me down, I will agree to sit in her rocking chair for a few minutes while she falls asleep in her bed. Then I tiptoe out, thinking she’s finally asleep and hear, “Don’t forget to leave my door open, Mom. I call you Mom now, okay, Mom? I love you, Mom.”

Nope, not tired at all.

I love you too, you little schemer.

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