August 9th, 2016
The kids and I have been struggling to establish our new routines as a family of four, rather than five. Bedtime has become a particular challenge. My kids seem to multiply at bedtime, their energy levels expanding rather than decreasing, until it feels like I’m chasing at least a dozen kids around the house, brandishing a fistful of toothbrushes and shrieking at them to stop jumping on the bed.
Little Bird is the most – shall we say, invigorating? – at bedtime. Her response to the divorce has been to stop sleeping. My theory is that she’s afraid that I’ll leave in the night. She started boycotting bedtime, fighting her body’s need for sleep with all of her not-inconsiderable willpower. Our therapist suggested we try yoga at bedtime as a way to decompress, spend quality time together, and build a routine that helped set the stage for sleep. So I bought a fabulous kids’ picture book that incorporates eleven yoga poses into a bedtime poem.
Miss Mouse and Kung Fu Panda have done yoga at school, so they were eager to try it out. Birdie? Well, she was less eager. In fact, the words “epic friggin’ disaster” come immediately to mind. Here’s how our first attempt went down. I announced it was time for yoga, smiling cheerfully to show how much fun this would be. Birdie screamed. I dimmed the lights in the room, setting the mood. Birdie screamed. I read the first page of the book and demonstrated the pose. Birdie screamed. Are you sensing a pattern here?
My beloved third-born screamed through the entire 15 minute exercise. And I want to be clear here. Little Bird screams more loudly than any person or creature I’ve ever heard in my entire life. When she is amped up to full-octane, it’s like listening to a steam whistle projected through a megaphone. It is physically painful. So there we were – the big kids and I – balancing on one leg with our hands gracefully folded, wincing and grimacing from the noise.
Undeterred, we tried it again the next night. More screaming, more wincing. Night #3? You guessed it. Screams. On the fourth night, it seemed like there was progress. Instead of screaming, Birdie attached herself to my leg like a barnacle. Every time I switched positions, she’d drape herself over me in a new and inconvenient way. Have you ever done “cat and cow” with a three-year-old lying on your back? Let’s just say it ups the difficult level. But at least she wasn’t screaming.
Finally, on the fifth night, she decided to join us and it was pretty much the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. Tiny feet planted, little hands reaching for the sky, solemn expression of utter concentration. Her favorite pose was the butterflies because she got to put her hands on her head, fingers pointing up like antennae.
Right now you’re probably picturing a beautiful, peaceful scene and congratulating me for my tenacity and fabulous parenting, right? Ha. This is real life, friends.
On the fifth night, after four straight evenings of enthusiastic participation, KFP decided yoga was stupid and spent the entire session doing karate chops two inches from his sisters’ faces. Excuse me while I go scream.