The Reversal

Imagine, if you dare, two quite intelligent, responsible adults being put to bed by a control-freak five year old and her sweet but easily distractible seven-year-old sister.


It was rather awesome, actually. We decided to undergo this experiment in part to see how the girls handled the responsibility of putting THEMSELVES to bed. And, oh, who am I kidding, also because I was too damn tired to stay awake much longer anyway! So, our kids told us when it was time for bed, and we followed by their rules and finished up our evening duties to follow their bedtime schedule.

We had to brush our teeth and get into our pajamas, and then we both got a massage. Laurel’s little fists of fury actually felt rather good on my upper back. I did have to convince her that punching my breasts would NOT actually make me feel calm and ready for bed, but she relented easily.

Each girl read us a bedtime story. This ritual took FAR too long. But, Laurel told us we had to find the mouse in every picture in Goodnight Moon. And the book that Kelsey read, Kiss GoodNight, had action parts in it! She also lost focus at several points during the book because she was completely exhausted, and we had to remind her gently that if she didn’t finish soon, her parents would fall asleep without night nights.

Hearing your children sing the songs that you have sung to them for years, their intonations mimicking your own, is completely charming and “Awww” worthy. Allen and I melted into puddles of goo under the covers with the cuteness. We then got night nights, noseies, kisses, hugs, and they put out the light and left the room.

And it only took a gentle reminder 15 minutes later that it was also bedtime for THEM. The lights were put out, and two tired little parents-in-training put themselves to bed and didn’t get out of bed until 9 this morning, except for some 4am nightmare activity, which is par for their ages.

All in all, the experiment was a total win. I did fully expect the younger child to go overboard with her new sense of power, though. I figured she’d be hanging out in the living room on my computer, doing some online gambling while sipping a glass of red wine, my purse slung over her shoulder and plans to rule the world all laid out. But she actually used her power responsibly, didn’t bludgeon anyone OR send her sister into fits of crying. Maybe Napoleon is growing up?

Kelsey and Laurel have agreed that we need to have more reversals in the future, including one in which they are responsible for preparing a meal. Although I don’t relish the idea of two girls with BIG imaginations coming up with a new recipe for me to have to digest (they usually include ketchup along with milk and peanut butter…), I do think we’ll try to give the girls some more control and power in small doses and let them level up a bit in our household dynamic. Maybe I can even get some help with the laundry at some point!

I fully endorse the concept of reversal to the parents of kids over 5. Giving them a sense of power over their parents seemed to satisfy a need to show us that they really could handle more responsibility than we thought they could. Bonus points were the warm fuzzies we felt at seeing the bedtime rituals we’ve crafted over the years from a different perspective, and witnessing the sweet, nurturing behaviors of two kids who, lately, seem to be fighting for every scrap of attention and independence they can squeeze from us.

About Terry L. Holt

Writer. Mother. Goddess. President of the Save the Dandelions Club. Climber of trees.
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One Response to The Reversal

  1. Sharon says:

    Isn’t just the most amazing feeling when our little one’s imitate us (um, in some things)? I melt every time Evan (the 3yr old) sings our lullaby or ‘reads’ “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” (his favorite nite-time book) to me…or when he pats my back like I pat his when we hug… sometimes I wish he could stay like this 🙂

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