Children’s bedtimes – a big topic here in Mitteleuropa, as we hang outside ballet class or inhale coffee while waiting for music school to finish. There are two lines of thought: one, let them stay up, eat supper with the grown-ups, bond with Daddy once he’s back from work, perhaps have a glass of wine and enjoy discourse on the political issues of the day. And then there’s me: get ’em to bed as soon as possible so that I can enjoy a glass of wine and discourse on the political issues of the day and/or watch reality TV.
To be fair, in Germany I don’t think many kids are having wine at supper, though I believe in neighbouring France they may go in for a little underage drinking à la famille.
I have been known to start preparing kids’ supper at 16h30 just because I’m so desperate to get my little darlings knocked unconscious for the night. I arrange play dates chez nous for over the lunchtime period, will fetch them early from play-dates elsewhere, avoid any late-afternoon excitement, just to ensure that by 19h30 I have three short people tucked up in bed and snoring. My pain barrier for any play date is 17h00 – after that, there’s always hell to pay.
Viz tonight – we leave Daisy’s play date at 17h05 in the car to collect Lily from hers. Daisy makes a scene in the car as I park because she wants to come inside. There’s no way I’m hauling her and Ollie out the car, and dragging them up a flight of stairs to the flat to watch Lily put on her boots and say her thank-yous. So they get to stay in the car, and I leave Daisy screaming. Her vocal chords are impressive, and I believe I can still hear her roaring as I mount said stairs. Play date Mummy keeps me chatting and when we get to the car, Daisy has unplugged herself and adorned her baby brother with her winter hat. Lily, who has been good-tempered up till now, discovers that Daisy has had waffles at her play date and begins to wail that she’s hungry and has had nothing to eat. Tears and sulks. Further discussion reveals that both fizzy apple juice and gummibaerchen were had. On the way from the car to the home, Daisy spends some time sitting on the pavement (it is two degrees), and then at the gate they have a wrestling match that ends with Daisy whacking Lily on the chest. Lily is now in full-blown wails and screams that set Ollie off. I say to Daisy ‘if you hit your sister one more time, you go on the stairs’. So she hits me instead.
At supper, Lily tries to take back the ceramic painted fairy that she gave Daisy yesterday. Daisy refuses to return it and I say once you’ve given something as a gift, you can’t ask for it back. Lily continues to wail throughout supper and Daisy enjoys the moral high ground. After supper (a big word for what it was – to speed up the process they had bowls of cereal and fruit), Daisy runs up the stairs to hide the fairy, drops and breaks it. More wails from Lily. Daisy hides from her sister on the windowsill of my bedroom, where she scoops up and eats some Calpol I spilt in the night while dosing a screaming Ollie.
In the end, everyone was in bed by 19h45, so it was quite a good night really.