Friday, September 17, 2010

A Bedtime Story

Harry B. Sanderford
We dine on Top Robin and Mac-O-Cheese, culinary euphemisms you can probably figure out. Spencer and Lauren are old enough now to know the real names but we still think these are more fun. Their parents have gone out for the evening leaving me in charge. Both girls love this knowing that no one runs a looser ship than Uncle Harry.

It's true and for the next few hours we’ll blow bubbles and soak each other with squirt guns and water balloons. We’ll eat animal crackers in a bed sheet tent on the living room floor, decapitating giraffes and turning elephants into hippos by biting off their legs and trunks. Lauren will teach their cat Kato what look to be some fairly advanced yoga postures and inescapable wrestling holds while we watch countless episodes of Sponge Bob Square Pants and laugh extra loud at jokes that are really just kind of funny.

Tonight I have brought a book to read to the girls at bedtime. This is not significant, my bringing a book. I have read to these girls many times. What is significant is that I've brought this particular book specifically for bedtime. To date on my watch there has not been a bedtime.

Many things prescribed for your own good, like bedtime, have only theoretical benefits. You're asked to believe in some imprecise, down the road goodness, while forsaking what you know to be the immediate and tangible goodness of another hour of T.V. or an extra slice of Birthday cake. When it comes to babysitting, I have my own theory. No bath? No problem. Maple syrup on your french fries? Make it so. And bedtime? Well when you're sleepy silly.

I have seen my angels transformed in the aftermath of one of our all-nighters though, and know I did their parents no favor. So at 8:00, for their own good, I tell them to put on their PJ's and brush their teeth. It's time for our story.

To my astonishment, my treachery goes undetected. Both girls comply brilliantly. Lauren shaves seconds off her teeth brushing speed record, while Spencer, who chooses to rinse with O.J. after brushing, discovers minty fresh and fresh squeezed to be gross-ly incompatable. Neither suspects that their normally allied Uncle Harry has defected to the other side.

I tuck them in, kiss them, turn off the light and take a seat in the doorway to catch the hallway's light on the page. The book I read from is a Harry Potter book, chosen for the obvious reason. I believe it's entertaining because for the first couple of pages the girls are quiet.

In bed, Lauren has never been able to control her lateral squirmage. She is the needle on a compass and Spencer is due North. "Stop it Lauren," commands Spencer. "I'm not doing anything," Lauren protests from her position of twenty past nine. I give Harry Potter a short break while I re-scooch Lauren, who is quite pleased with her interruption, to a position closer to six O'clock. I read on for awhile, occassionally glancing at my wards to see how my trick is working.

Listening to the story has made Lauren sleepy. And as she turns over, she tugs some of the covers along with her. This infraction does not go unnoticed by Spencer, who with a great yank, unfurls her sister from her slumber. "She's hogging all the covers," Spencer argues. Heartfelt testimony in the trial she knows she has started. "No I'm not," shouts Lauren, now wide awake and mounting her own defense.

After delicate deliberation of the facts, stacking "did nots" and "did too's" along side "Un-Uh's" and "Un-Huh's". I would rule in favor of Lauren, pointing out to Spencer that she is still fully covered and has quite possibly overreacted. But, even though there is a certain Yin-Yang balance, I know the offshoot gloating and subsequent pouting will lead only to further litigation. I declare a mistrial, re-tuck, re-kiss, and resume reading our story.

Lauren is asleep in a minute. Spencer hangs on to the end of chapter one. I close the book, and kiss them both once more. It's for their own good.

Now where did I put that remote?

12 comments:

Laurita said...

Harry, this was brilliant. There are several laugh-out-loud lines. I loved it. Everyone should have an Uncle Harry.

Paul D. Brazill said...

'Many things prescribed for your own good, like bedtime, have only theoretical benefits.' A beaut of a piece of writing.

Crybbe666 said...

Fantastic stuff, Harry. Sounds like great, fun times in that house!! Great writing, mate.

Madam Z said...

I loved every line. I agree with Laurita..."everyone should have an Uncle Harry."

Pamila Payne said...

Is it too late? Will you be my Uncle Harry now? Uh, I didn't mean that to sound pervy. It's just that your story is adorable and I agree with Laurita and M.Z.

Harry said...

Thanks everyone! And Pamila, sure, it's never too late!

J. M. Strother said...

That was really nice, Harry. Sweet, yet not overly sentimental. And it all rings so true. Loved it.
~jon

Marisa Birns said...

Did enjoy your story. I, too, think that many things that are supposed to be good for us, only are in a parallel universe. :)

Everyone needs an Uncle Harry.

Rebecca Emin said...

What a lovely story of a very caring babysitter.
Heartwarming.

outofthewastebasket said...

You wrote this so well that I could picture it happening as if I was sitting there on the bed too. This made me smile all the way through.Thanks for writing it!

Gita said...

Gotta love stacking "did nots" and "did too's" along side "Un-Uh's" and "Un-Huh's." I could hear the stacking. Bed sheet tents! Disemboweling giraffe crackers! Please invite me to a sleepover soon. I will bring my own special pillow. (This was not a lewd request in case any smarty-mouth decides to comment on my comment.)

Sugar said...

Gita! I'm the smarty-mouth who's going to piggyback on your comment and say...I WANNA SLEEPOVER WITH UNCLE HARRY TOO!!! Let's go for the food...I mean...chicken nuggets and mac and cheese..are you kidding me? AND to top it all off...Harry reading to us? :)