The Boy has been a proper pickle at bedtime for a while now. I’m fortunate in that he doesn’t come out of his room or call out for me; on the contrary, he’s as stealthy as can be in an attempt to avoid being caught red-handed. It’s all because he can’t resist reading after lights-out. Every evening, I sneak upstairs to find him under the covers with a book, squinting in the darkness.
We’ve tried pretty much everything to get him to go to sleep at a semi-reasonable time. We confiscated his bedside light after a run of nights where I found him flat out with book in hand and the light still on at 11pm. Then we confiscated the torch that he denied all knowledge of having in his room – despite the fact that it was in bed with him when I checked on him before going to bed myself. We tried withholding pocket money, giving extra pocket money for going to sleep nicely, threatening him with missing days out/parties/playdates because he’d be too tired, but nothing will come between The Boy and his books.
In all honesty, being cross with him for reading when he should be asleep would be somewhat hypocritical. I was also an illicit reader as a child, and even now, will stay up long after I should have gone to bed if I’m engrossed in a book. So while I worry that the sleep deprivation will catch up on him (it’s not unheard of for him to get up at 5.30am and start reading, as well as staying up late at night), I can’t be too judgemental.
Nevertheless, going through the same ritual every bedtime is becoming rather tedious. I read to The Boy, then he reads to himself for 20 minutes, then I tell him he has to switch the light off and go to sleep. He promises me he will.
And as soon as I shut the door behind me, I hear the familiar rustling of him sitting up and opening his book.
‘You promised me you were going to sleep,’ I remind him, sticking my head around the door.
Cue the fibs. Some nights he’ll claim to have been getting a tissue. Sometimes he says he had to put the light on to scratch his leg (why that needs a light is beyond me). Or perhaps he’ll tell me that he had a bad dream – even though he hasn’t even been asleep yet.
It’s all very minor and silly, but it’s irritating nonetheless. Irritating because I can’t fully unwind until I know both children are settled for the night, and irritating because he thinks nothing of breaking his so-called promise within seconds of making it. And he will stick to his story, no matter how ridiculous it seems. Last night, I heard him crashing about in his room at 9pm. When I went in, he’d set up camp with his quilt and pillows on the floor.
‘I fell out of bed!’ he insisted, when I questioned what was going on.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never fallen out of bed and taken both pillows, quilt and soft toys with me…
I suspect I’m fighting a losing battle here. It has crossed my mind just to let him stay up as late as he wants (after all, he does anyway) and hope that he eventually learns to put the flipping book down and go to sleep when he’s tired, instead of falling asleep with it on his face. But I don’t think I trust him to do that yet, so for now, I suppose I just have to resign myself to spending every evening traipsing up and downstairs and listening to a string of increasingly improbable excuses for The Boy’s nocturnal antics.
Can’t think where he gets it from…