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The Bedtime Lesson

Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke.

by Hal Evan Caplan
April 20, 2009

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The Bedtime Lesson

Learning lessons is exactly that...learning. My tyke is my teacher and he delivers these lessons for me to learn night or day; at home or even on vacation. Time doesn't seem to matter because the lessons that I am to learn from him appear any time, any place. Most of the time, I don't realize I am in the middle of a lesson until it's over and it hits me like a ton of bricks.

For spring break 2009, we went to Colorado on a week long ski/snowboard trip to visit, "Papa Ouli" (Hawaiian for grandfather). It's been approximately a year since we last saw Papa Ouli and we were all excited to see him; however, my teacher was literally off-the-scale-excited to see him. My teacher associates Papa Ouli with snow, since he lives in Colorado and snow means "lots of fun things to do in it" (in his words). We arrived at the house and Papa Ouli was still at work and would not be home for several hours. My teacher asked me, what seemed to be a thousand times, "is he home yet"?.... not to be confused with the, "are we there yet?" question, which he did ask so many times that I lost count.

Once Papa Ouli arrived home, my teacher went crazy, and it didn't help that Papa Ouli spoiled him from the very beginning of the vacation. Papa Ouli set up many scavenger hunts around the house... and this too, went on all week. Some days, they started early in the morning before Papa Ouli went to work, and on other days, several scavenger hunts had been accomplished during the day leading up to bed time. (What this really meant was a way for Papa Ouli to get rid of many random little items. Of course my teacher didn't see it that way).

I know we were on vacation and I had no problem allowing my teacher to stay up later, but there is a limit as to how late. I mean it was way past his bed time when this particular lesson took place. On this night, my teacher expressed that he was not even close to being tired. I can understand that, we were on vacation and we were visiting Papa Ouli, so, I don't blame him.

"Okay, dude...it's time for bed." I called.
"No...no...no...please." He begged. (...at least he said, please).
"It's way past your bedtime." I expressed. "Let's go." I continued.
"But I'm having so much fun with Papa Ouli." He claimed.
"I know, but it's way past your bedtime and you can see him in the morning." I explained

Then my teacher tried to ask his mother if he could stay up later, but she reminded him of the fact that it was bedtime and that I had already asked him to get ready for bed. As you can imagine, he was not happy and he started to pout and make it difficult for my wife and me to get him ready for bed. We had even started resorting to threatening him with taking away privileges like skiing with Papa Ouli, sledding, snowball fights and even more scavenger hunts throughout the week with Papa Ouli.

He didn't like that; he didn't like that one bit. But because I was the one threatening him at first, who do you think he got mad at... That's correct, ME...and believe me, he let me know it.

"Okay, let's go". I yelled from the other room.

Not a peep from him. He played it off as f he didn't hear me. I walked into the living room, stood behind him and calmly repeated the fact that it was time for bed. He turned and looked at me like "I" did something wrong here...I guess in his eyes, making him go to bed when he was having fun puts me in the category of "The bad guy".

"Let?s go...go...go." I repeated.
"I don't want to." He answered.
"It's time for bed, now." I exclaimed in a very stern voice.
"I'm going, but I don't want you to put me to bed." He shot back.
"Well, why not?" I asked.
"You made me mad and I want Mom to put me to bed." He answered.
"That's fine, but I'm going to help Mom get you ready for bed." I expressed.
He didn't say a "peep" and walked into the roo where Papa Ouli was sitting.

He gave Papa Ouli a kiss and a hug; then my teacher, my wife and I walked downstairs to the bedroom. We changed him into his "night-night" clothes, gave him his asthma medicine and he brushed his teeth.

Finally, the bedtime tasks were completed and he walked over to me and gave me a hug and a kiss and told me that he loved me, and then climbed into bed.

"I'm confused". I said to my teacher.
"Why?" He asked.
"I thought that you were mad at me." I reminded him.
"Not when I'm going bed, just earlier this same night." He explained and climbed into bed.

I walked out of the bedroom as my wife read bedtime stories to him, until he fell asleep. Just for the record, according to my wife, he went out like a light in a matter of minutes.

As I was climbing the stairs up to the living room, it occurred to me that my teacher had just taught me a valuable lesson.

In a nutshell, the lesson that I learned that day is: It's always a good rule of thumb to remember when you go to bed, don't go to bed mad at the one(s) you love.

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PO BOOKS BY HAL EVAN CAPLAN
Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke
Published September 28, 2010

A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

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Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke,
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A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

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