Tots sleepless as nightgown bandit terrorizes town

Someone once remarked to me that most traditional lullabies were awful and mean-spirited on the part of the parents, and went something like this:

“Go to bed, you little creep!
Mom and Daddy want to sleep.”

I have yet to find that particular tune, but if I did, it would likely be a favorite of mine, albeit secretly. Because, like all good writing, it tells the truth. (Oh, but of course, your child isn’t a little creep, and you’d never harbor such a thought, even when he’s up for the fifth time that night and screaming that he’s hungry, but only for candy. Yes, you could never use a negative label, much less think it. It would be simply impossible. Impossible! I must have serious issues for even suggesting your child’s outright refusal to perform a basic human function each and every night could drive you to be even a little critical of the poor dear.)

For what seems to be eons — which of course, would be billions of years, but can’t be any more than four and a half — my fondest dream has been to answer Wee Willie Winkie’s probing and, truth be told, somewhat invasive and nagging question with a resounding yes: “Are all the children in their beds, for now it’s 8 o’clock?”

But really, what do we know about this Willie? Or does he prefer Winkie? And do we really want him running around upstairs in his nightgown, rapping at our kids’ windows? Crying through the lock? Seems to be he’s the one with a few unresolved problems here.

So this freaky dude wearing a striped nightie and a hat to bed, transporting a lamp that is obviously a major fire hazard, is supposed to inspire kids to fall asleep quickly. As opposed to sleeping with one eye open, as I would be if I ever saw this guy within a half-mile of my block.

But sadly, my offspring don’t meet those bedtime requirements. In fact, without the use of a motor vehicle and some Madison Avenue-level spin, The Elder has never fallen asleep before 8. Never. And truth be told, when I was a kid, I remember laughing at that line in “Wee Willie Winkie,” too. What, was I supposed to go to bed at 7:30 or something? And miss “The Muppet Show”? Fat chance.

Kids today don’t think much differently, but there’s been a resurgence in getting them to bed on time, and a renewed interest in classic bedtime stories like “Goodnight Moon,” which as a sleep aid, and a work of literature, just doesn’t cut it for me.

First off, my big question is, “Goodnight nobody”? Who are we saying bye to — an apparition? A ghost? Great, there’s not just a “young mouse” — vermin — in this weird green room with the mysterious bunny-lady politely telling me to shut up and go to bed, but phantoms, too? And am I really expected to say goodnight to a bowl of nasty-ass oatmeal? Mush? So appetizing. Why is that what I’m being fed at night, anyway? Ick. And who put the comb and the brush next to it? Isn’t that downright unsanitary? How can I be expected to sleep now?

Who is that old lady, anyway? Does she show up when I go to sleep? Do I know her? Is she my mom? Why is she telling me hush? Is she stealing the paintings? And, anyway, when I said “Goodnight room,” didn’t that cover everything in there? “Goodnight room, Goodnight moon,” and that’s it? Done, then I’m asleep?

Hardly. Some people, who aren’t me or my relatives, are very, very lucky, and their kids go to sleep like model munchkins before 8 o’clock. The rest of us are wide awake and hiding from Wee Willie Winkie, because who knows what he’ll do if he catches us up after 8. That guy is clearly not to be trusted.–Jillian O’Connor

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