The bedtime routine had been well planned by yours truly. Guaranteed not to fail. Round up kids, quick bathroom stop, then kids in bedroom, read story, lights out, and kids go to sleep. Well planned, guaranteed, and simple. Then stillness of quiet would once again descend upon our house.
I quickly learned that when it comes to small children who don’t want to go to sleep, well planned, guaranteed, and simple are words that just don’t go together — especially at bedtime. Quiet doesn’t either.
Story time started after our granddaughters, ages 2 and 3, were tucked in bed, first and second kisses had been given and received, and I had settled in my rocking recliner. Once again we visited the pond of Sala-ma-Sond and Yertle the Turtle. After only one page, the story was interrupted by a question from Little One. “Big Papa, why is it dark outside?” A simple question, a simple answer and a quick return to Yertle. Or so I thought.
Before even answering the first question, a barrage of additional questions were fired my way: “Where did the sun go? Why are the stars awake? Can I have more water? Are monsters outside? What’s that noise?”
My answers were, “Sleeping like you should be. Because it’s nighttime. No, of course not,” and “It’s just the wind. Now close your little eyes and go to sleep, my love.” Back to Yertle, he had just ordered two hundred more turtles to his stone in the middle of a pond called Sala-ma-Sond trying to build a higher throne because the more things he could see, the more things he could rule over.
As Yertle was climbing up to sit atop his new throne, someone else was climbing up to sit upon hers. Seems Sweet Caroline, our 2-year-old, had once again escaped from her bed and was now sitting atop her new throne: Big Papa’s lap. I asked, “If you’re allowed to stay, will you go right to sleep?” She assured me with a sleepy, “Un-huh. I promise.”
It was back to Yertle the Turtle King once again. From his throne high in the sky he cried, “I’m the king of a house! And what’s more, beyond that, I’m the king of a blueberry bush and a cat!”
With that last sentence, yet another question floated up from the bed of Little One. She wanted to know if our cats were sleeping. “No. Like someone else in this room, cats don’t sleep at night. They stay awake and play.” Instantly I realized my mistake. I had said the “P” word.
After 10 minutes of playing in the pond of Sala-ma-Sond, a green blanket placed in the middle of the bedroom floor, the girls were once again back in their beds, both well on their way back to sleep. That is until “a plain little turtle named Mack, groaned from the very bottom of the now two hundred tall turtle stack. He said, ‘Besides, we need food. We are starving!’”
Yes, our two little turtles in bed were now starving also. Another 10 minutes spent trying to convince them they really didn’t need a snack proved to be almost as futile as Mack complaining to Yertle the Turtle King. Unlike what Yertle did, I couldn’t yell back, “SILENCE!” to halt their inquiries. Bedtime was delayed once again. All due to “that plain little turtle named Mack.”
With additional hugs and kisses, assurances that all monsters had been chased away and that even our cats were taking a nap, sheets and blankets were tucked around little bodies, the lamp was switched off and I sank back down into my throne, the comfy recliner in the room. Soon sounds of little baby snores were heard rising from their beds. It was time for Big Papa to leave.
Rising out of the recliner I did “a plain little thing.” I burped. Thanks to the quickly eaten tacos the Wife and I had for dinner. Unlike Yertle, the King of all Sala-ma-Sond, I didn’t fall off of my throne. But just like Yertle, I did go “Plunk! In the pond!” A pond Big Papa had left in the middle of the floor.
No worries, my shell didn’t crack. Luckily, the fall only hurt my pride and not my back.
[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001. To read more of Rick’s stories, visit his blog: storiesbyrick.wordpress.com.]