I hear the bedroom door slam open and I pause the Netflix, stomping over to the stairs to see who is going to appear at the top of them. As I suspected, it is my three-year-old.
“Edward.” I don’t need to say anything else.
“Daddy, I don’t wanna sleep in your bed, I wanna sleep in my bed. I tried to tell you.” He bursts into tears as I begrudgingly trudge up the fourteen stairs to his bedroom for at least the third time in the past twenty minutes.
“Fine. This is your last chance. Go in your bed.” He scampers off to his bed while I go get his things from my bedroom.
“Daddy, he wasn’t doing anything. He was just going back into his bed but he couldn’t get his moon light.”
“Okay. Thank you. Go to sleep please.” My first grader is the household reporter.
I bring his moon light in and plug it in with some difficultly, as the room is dark and the outlet is behind the dresser. I tuck everyone in for the one bazillionth time and stand up, trying to look as annoyed as I feel.
“Edward, this is your last and only chance. You got put in the other room so that you would not bother your sister. If I hear any more talking… If I hear any more playing… If I hear any more shouting…” Big dramatic pause.
“You will be back in my bed. Do you understand?” Heads are nodding, so I walk out of the room and close the door. “Good night. I love you. I don’t want to see you again until morning.”
Down the stairs I go to sit on the couch with my wife. I unpause the show. I wait thirty seconds.
I pause the show. I march over to the stairs. “What did I just tell you?! Go in my bed!”
“Daddy, Ruby hurt her head on the ceiling!”
“What?” I drag myself up the stairs. “Ruby, what’s wrong?”
“I hit my head on the ceiling.”
“And how could you have done that if you were sleeping?”
“But Daddy, I’m not tie-errrrrrrrd!”
“Get tired. You have school in the morning. Did you tell Edward to come get me?”
“Okay, Edward, get back in your bed.” Whoosh! He is in bed again. “Ruby, if you hurt yourself again, you come get me. Don’t send your brother. Got it?” More heads nodding.
“Now listen very carefully. If I hear any more talking. If I hear any more playing. If I hear any more crying. If I hear any more head bonking on the ceiling. If I hear any more doors opening…”
“Somebody is sleeping in the other room. Got it?”
“But Daddy, I’m not tired at alllllllll!”
“So read a book. Quietly.”
“But my book is at school!” I walk over to the bookshelf and grab the biggest, fattest, longest book I can find and toss it into the loft bed.
“Here. Now just…”
“Daddy, I need a book too!”
“What?! No! You can’t even read!”
“But Daaaaaddddyyyyyy, I neeeeeeeeed it!”
“FINE!” I grab Go Dog Go off of the shelf and hurl it gently at my son. “Now good night. I love you. And I don’t want to see or hear either of you until morning.”
I thump back downstairs to my wife.
“Poor Daddy. I think you need some ice cream,” she says, because she is the best wife ever.
“Humph,” I said. Which means, “obviously.”
So we ate ice cream and watched some more show. For a while. That’s when I heard the water running.
I slam the door to the deck for dramatic effect. Edward turns to look down the stairs at me from his stool in the bathroom. “No more chances!” I shout, storming towards the bathroom.
“But Daddy, the potty is making a scary noise!” he protests. And it was true. The toilet was running and gurgling like it was being strangled. I walk over to it, lift the top off of it, and see a tank full of, not water, but toys. Toys jammed into the hole where the water should be flowing out. Toys filling up the tank. Toys everywhere and water spraying all over.
“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?! GO IN MY BED RIGHT NOW!”
He takes off faster than I knew he could move and dives right from the bathroom, around the corner, into my bedroom, and under the covers without once touching the floor. I start pulling toys out of the toilet tank and finally get everything in working order again. Then I go into my bedroom where I see his eyes peeking out from under my covers.
“No moon light. No blankie. No nothing. You stay in the bed and you go to sleep. And heaven help me if I see you set one foot out of that bed again tonight, you do NOT want to know what is going to happen.”
I turn the hall light on so that he would not be too scared, and then I smash my way back down the stairs for the last few seconds of grown up time before my wife heads to bed at her traditional reasonable hour.
I did not see either of my children again that night. I don’t know if they went to sleep or not. But honestly, I don’t care. They can do whatever they want up there, as long as I don’t have to see or hear them again until morning.