The 4 Essential B's of Bedtime
One evening in late June, when Chloe was three months old, Kendahl looked me square in the eyes and told me, “I need you to take over bedtime.” It was a reasonable request coming from the person who had fed our daughter with her own body every three hours since she had been born. Thankful for her directness, and relishing the opportunity for new fatherly responsibility, I officially took on the role of “bedtime dad.” In these two months of overseeing the evening purview, I have developed a routine that I’m happy to document and pass on here. It’s not bulletproof--nothing is with a baby--but it’s worked pretty well and has become a highlight of my day. Thankfully the routine is an easy-to-follow alliterative pattern, much like a slick sermon outline or protein supplement slogan: Bath, Book, Bless, Bed.
Here we go:
Never has there been a more perfect opportunity for a VeggieTales reference. If you’re not familiar, VeggieTales is an old cartoon featuring talking vegetables that bring you bible stories. There’s a segment called “Silly Songs with Larry,” starring Larry the cucumber. The segment gets introduced by a dude in a high-pitched British accent: “Now it’s time for silly songs with Larry… the part of the show where Larry comes out and sings a silly song.” One day, randomly, I mustered up my best British accent and said, “Now it’s time for bath time with daddy… the part of the day where daddy comes out and gives a lovely bath.” This is now an essential part of the routine.
At this point in our lives, bath time means filling up the tub and placing her bath chair smack in the middle before getting her undressed and ready to go. The first few times I did it, I’d forget to push the little pin down and would get doused by the shower for a second. It also took me a few weeks to get the temperature just right, baby bear style. I can distinctly remember her hating baths during her first month or so, but now she loves them. Even when she’s fussy while being undressed, all you have to do is hold her up in the air while carrying her into the bathroom and a big smile will light up her face.
When I’m rinsing her off by pouring water on her from a plastic cup, she gives me a big smile; sometimes she even lifts her head up as if trying to drink it. When I pour water on her head to wash the soap out of her hair, and some of the water drips down onto her face, she gets a kick out of it. Balancing the towel under my neck and putting her on my knee to wrap her up in her little baby towel is the trickiest part of the whole endeavor, but once that little hoodie part of the towel is placed over her head... there aren’t many things in this world cuter than that.
At this point in her life, she is too young to understand, verbally respond or even physically engage with the books we read to her, but it’s a fun habit to get into, and how else am I going to raise a child genius?! As I have previously written, many of the children’s books we own are ridiculous and have a shallow or downright confusing plot. Part two in that highly demanded series will be forthcoming and will likely include a section on our newest book, Llama Llama Red Pajama, which evidently has been made into a Netflix children’s series. I will move on from this section before I get myself too riled up on the topic.
I’ve been a person of faith for a long time, but there’s something about having a child that makes you yearn to pray. Most nights it’s really simple: “God, thank you for my little Chloe. Please keep her healthy and safe and breathing tonight.” On rare occasions I’ll add a brief segment about keeping her away from boys for the next twenty years or providing her with epic tennis skills. Laying a hand on her and saying a little prayer has become a staple of our bedtime routine.
This is, of course, the final stage of the process and you just hope it goes quickly. Lately it has, fortunately, as we’ve started to lay Chloe down on her tummy to sleep. It often requires some back rubbing, head placement with my hands, and some verbal, soft shuuushing to really work. Those times when she’s so tired that her eyes immediately get heavy, and she goes down quickly, I leave the room triumphantly, as if expecting a trophy, ready to do it all again tomorrow.