For the past two weeks I have taken Tiny-Small on what I like to refer to as the “Mommy Death March.” After dinner we go straight up the side of our backyard mountain and walk until we are gasping for breath and begging for water. Which, for Tiny-Small, is about 3 feet. Five minutes more and she is begging for a snack. Ten minutes further and she is wondering why we didn’t pack a tent and the TV. She is like a princess when it comes to exercise and like the girly-est girly-girl you can imagine when it comes to the outdoors. She packs a purse for our twenty-minute journey and must wear sparkle shoes and bows in her hair. It’s a comedy wrapped up in a Fancy Nancy book trapped in a Sweet Valley High teenage novella, and then rolled into a death march for mommy.
Anyway, it’s the only way to tire her out for bedtime. I call it a death march because I usually feel like death afterwards. I look like death too, except I am pretty sure death looks more rested.
The after dinner walk has been working well. I get in about 3,000 steps on our walk. That’s what my pedometer claims anyway. I figure it’s probably the equivalent of 30,000 steps, really, give or take a few, since it’s uphill both ways. I swear.
The best part though is when Tiny-Small falls asleep within 30 seconds of her angelic little head hitting her Dora and Boots, pink, flowered pillow. That’s the best because then I can sneak into the kitchen and eat all of the chocolate ice cream I want and revel in the quiet my buzzing ears can hardly believe. That’s the glory of the mommy death march. It is quite a thrill.
I was living the easy bedtime dream for fourteen days. I had hours to myself in the evening to read all of the blogs I wanted to and to make snarky comments on my friends Facebook statuses. I even got to watch a few episodes of Sex In The City while folding other people’s underwear. One night I even had time to make homemade apple tarts and…wait for it…eat them! It was glorious! That was the kind of after 9pm life I’d been living. For fourteen days straight. FOURTEEN BEAUTIFUL DAYS!
Until Tuesday night that is. Tuesday night Tiny-Small suddenly developed an immunity to mommy death march madness. She walked and walked, but she never got tired. She didn’t need to be carried down the mountain like she usually did. She did not beg me to let her put on her Disney Princess nightgown and Spiderman underwear so she could go to sleep immediately upon return from our walk. Nope, Tuesday night was different. Tuesday night, she put her head on her pillow and it bounced straight up into the air until she was completely in a standing position. It was like watching a pretty version of the Exorcist. Her arms were raised above her head in jubilant joy as she began to jump on her bed like a little monkey just begging for the doctor to be called about a terrible head injury. Then she looked over at my death-like face and exclaimed, “I’m not even a little tired!”
I begged her to lie down, but she just asked, “Why? I don’t need to sleep! I’m wide awake!” Then she bounced around while I dozed in and out of consciousness. It was either that or cry myself to sleep over my loss of late night freedom and snack eating.
Don’t forget me, chocolate ice cream, I will always love you.
The next day as we embarked upon our after dinner walk, and I was in the final throes of bedtime anxiety and despair, like a rainbow of love, the clouds parted and the sun shone down on Jim and Tiny-Small. Angels were singing. I swear! There, before my eyes, was the answer to all of our bedtime woes.
Somewhere, half way up our backyard mountain, Jim had discovered the perfect rock for jumping. Tiny-Small loved it. She jumped and jumped like a New Mexican jumping bean incarnate. We let her jump for 15 minutes straight. I tried to hide the little smile creeping across my face. I couldn’t help it. I knew all of that jumping was making her so very, very tired.
On the way back home she asked to be carried. She was too tired to take one more step.
When her head hit the pillow in exhaustion I almost woke her up with my cheering. I couldn’t believe it. She’d death-jumped herself right into bed.
When I was young the old folks would always say, “All that energy is wasted on the young.” I just thought they were crazy. Now I know exactly what they were talking about.