The “stall” in hacky-sack or soccer juggling parlance is a slick move as any late 80’s/early 90’s University of Vermont hippy worth his weight in patchouli and Phish bootlegs would tell you. Basically one’s foot catches the ball/sack on its free fall in such a way that the foot moves downwards at exactly the same speed the ball/sack had been previously traveling. Suddenly, foot and ball/sack pause together as if hovering, until the foot re-launches the ball/sack upwards. A power knee stall takes this move into an evern more impressive dimension, but I’m ready to move on.
When the bedtime hour arrives at our house, Greta has become a master of her own stall move. As the eldest of her siblings, she has the right to be last to bed. But still, she stretches those last few minutes into marathon sessions sometimes. She’s crafted a routine that has become standard operating procedure.
First, we lay in bed together. She wants to pretend that we were asleep, but we woke up because we had a bad dream and we have to tell each other what the bad dream was about. I try to avoid zombie apocalypse scenarios – to ensure she will eventually fall asleep – and focus more on nightmares appropriate for a four year old. My examples might involve something like an ice cream cone that topples over. Or crashing on a bicycle. Or a toilet that overflows a bathroom, creating a river pouring through the ceiling of our garage. (Oh wait, that last one actually just happened in our house on Friday night.) Greta will then share her bad dream, which oftentimes resembles my bad dream but with slightly different details.
To distract ourselves from the bad dreams, Greta calls for a moment of silence for us to reflect on happy thoughts. After sufficient time has passed, she always makes me go first and divulge what my happy thoughts were. On a good night, I try to come up with something new and unique. On most nights, though, I fall back on the old reliables: unicorns, rainbows, butterflies, flowers, fairies, ice cream, playgrounds, etc. Following my lead, Gigi’s turn will coincidentally involve purple, pink, and polka-dot versions of whatever we’ve just discussed. It’s classic.
For the grand finale, we negotiate a song list. If I’m grumpy or if she’s at her max, we pick one song and call it a night. If we’re in a good place, I try to max the concert at three songs. Most frequently, the trifecta involves “Do-Re-Mi,” the infamous “Cheerios” song we invented a couple of years ago, and “Show Me the Way to Go Home.”
Next come hugs and kisses, an exchange of “I love you”’s, activating the sound machine, and turning on the glow in the dark lady bug. The door closes.
Every once in a while, as THE WIFE and I are cleaning the fallout from dinner and just dying to sit on the couch, we’ll hear whimpering from the corner bedroom. Usually, the excuse is a forgotten stuffed animal. Other times, she has to pee. Or she’s thirsty. Or she’s upset because I didn’t sing one of the songs she wanted. The more tired she is, the more obscure the excuse.
We’ll see how long this current routine plays out. I’m not sure how old Gigi will be when the routine becomes too juvenile. Fortunately, if my oldest daughter is anything like her mom, then at least I know we will debate that it is time for bed when she falls asleep on the couch.
Sweet dreams and happy thoughts. I’m off to get some Zzzs.