“I can only sleep with the door open, if you close it I’m never going to fall asleep!”
“I can’t fall asleep if the door is open, I’m so tired! I need the door closed!”
“No, it has to be open!”
“I finally got used to it closed!”
“No it needs to be open!”
“No it needs to be closed! The whole way!”
“It’s too dark!”
“It’s too light!”
I took a deep breath. I was done for the day.
Bedtime can do that to you.
They had all brushed their teeth so nicely as I watched so proudly, until my four year old made sure to autograph the mirror with the toothpaste. Something about the push down tab of the Aqua Fresh just begs for it…
Three year old had done his ritual of stepping into four year old’s negel vasser, and I made a mental note to email the French Twins and tell them I don’t appreciate their sense of humor.
“I need the door closed now!!”
I needed to get involved. My two big boys, 6 and 9 years old, were not going to figure this one out. And I needed them to go to sleep now!
I marched upstairs to their room, not quite sure how to resolve it. All I knew was that I was low on patience.
Who cares about the door? Just close your eyes and you won’t see if it’s open or closed! Stop driving each other crazy! You both woke up at 6 today and you need to go to sleep now! The next one to say a word will sleep on the couch tonight!
But I caught myself just before I launched into my mommy rhetoric.
I had a flashback. Me and my two sisters. We shared a room and we loved it. And we fought about the door. One wanted it wide open, one wanted it closed and I wanted it 3/4 closed. Not 1/2 way, it had to be 3/4, and I had a special way to measure. And we argued. And we debated. For many, many nights. And despite all that, we are best friends.
I looked at my boy in amusement, still arguing about the door. How did they know that that’s what you’re supposed to argue about? Did they get the memo, bedtime rule #712: argue about the door until mom comes. Then continue arguing.
This wasn’t about them. This wasn’t about deliberately pushing my patience.
This was about the joys of siblings sharing a room.
It’s part of the growing experience. Part of the excitement of whispering at night to each other when you’re supposed to be sleeping, of waking up early and talking until it’s time to get out of bed. Of staring up at the ceiling and sharing your dreams of the night before.
It’s all part of the joys of siblings. And I didn’t want to steal it away from them.
So I used every last ounce of non existant energy to rationally resolve the issue.
And we came to a compromise. They were both happy. And so was I. Not because I came up with a clever solution, but because I had the presence of mind to see past the door.
I walked back downstairs, knowing full well that tomorrow night they’d have the same disagreement. And the next night. And the next. Just like I had done.
And I repeated to myself over and over again. It’s not them. They are doing nothing wrong.
It’s not the door.
It’s part of the childhood experience. Part of the learning to share and care for each other. Just like me and my sisters.
In that context, I can hold on to my patience a few moments longer when I’m called in to referee.
I could hear them talking and laughing, making plans for the next day.
And I was relieved that I had caught myself in time.