2 a.m. is the new 9 p.m.
The rules have changed around our house
One of the best parenting tips I ever got came from a dog trainer.
Before we became parents to a human, my wife and I had a pair of German Shepherds that we’d take to training sessions every Sunday morning. One of the primary things we learned – and we still use – is that to be fair, consistency is key.
So when it came time to graduate to human parenting, we thought we’d take the same approach. For the past 17 years, we’ve stuck to incredibly predictable routines. And the most consistent was this: bed time is 9 p.m. Every night, no matter what, when 9 p.m. arrived, it was time for the kid to go to bed. And not just because ‘Game of Thrones’ was coming on. Although it was a nice coincidence.
Recently, however, we realized it was getting to the point where that was starting to be a little unnecessary. Our daughter is 17 and she’s graduating high school. It felt a little silly to be telling a soon-to-be college freshman that it was time for bed. So we stopped doing that.
Or, more accurately, things evolved.
When the stay-at-home executive order was made, schools were shut down and everyone went home and stayed there, a lot of things changed – including our firmly-entrenched routines.
Now it goes a little like this:
Before – “Time for a shower.”
Now – “You need to shower before Thanksgiving.”
Before – “I made you fish sticks and broccoli. Here’s a glass of milk.”
Now – “Supper?” * shrugs *
Before – “It’s time for your violin practice.”
Now – “Is that Pink Floyd?”
Before – “It’s 9 p.m. Go to bed.”
Now – (Dad sticks his head into the kid’s computer room) “Please try to go to bed by midnight. 2 a.m. Well, maybe before Thursday.”
Before the torches and pitchforks arrive, I’ll say that the kid eats well, she is far from pungent, and she gets enough sleep. For a vampire.
Like all high school seniors, she’s missing out on the end of year celebrations, so I feel a little bad for her. She often gathers with groups of friends on Zoom or on their respective Animal Crossing island or Minecraft server. It’s about as social as you can be right now, so I turn a blind eye to the clock.
One morning I came downstairs to find her zonked out on the love seat with her iPad. I gave her a nudge, she sat up and said, “We had a sleepover.”
It’s not all 72-hour video game marathons and snacks, though. She’s got finals this week – her last ever, in high school – so last night I opened the door to her room at exactly 9 p.m.
“Hey, you need to go to bed.”
She looked at me like I was crazy (which has become rather routine, come to think of it.)
“You have finals tomorrow. Go to bed.”
She shut her laptop, stood up and said, “OK.”
She’s a good kid. Years of being consistent, I guess. Our dog trainer would be proud.