Prompt: What was bedtime like when you were growing up? Were your parents strict in enforcing bedtimes? Were you a difficult one to get to bed? Did your parents share stories about getting you to sleep when you were a baby? When did your parents turn bedtime over to you?
It always gives me pause when parents nowadays can’t ever do anything in the evening because they have to get their kids home for a 7:30 or 8:00 bedtime. I don’t remember bedtime being a big deal in our home. There was never a magic hour. We just played in the living room or did our evening activities until dad said that it was time to go to sleep. It generally was around 9 or 9:30, but there was never a set time identified to us kids as “bedtime.”
I do remember wanting to stay up past when Dad gave the bedtime announcement. My sister and I shared a room, and we were both eager book-a-holics from a very young age. Mom and Dad left our bedroom door cracked to let the hall light shine into our room as a “night light”, and I remember Anna and I laying with our books in the stream of light that came through the crack. We moved our books up and down to read them if the light stream wasn’t wide enough to cover the whole book. That was when we were reading the “Little House” books, so we were probably in second or third grade.
During our slightly older elementary years, problems arose with our shared bed situation. Anna liked to kick or poke or tickle–and I didn’t appreciate it when I was supposed to be trying to sleep. We tried a variety of solutions. One in particular involved making two separate “beds” on our double bed. We each folded a sheet and blanket in half for our half of the bed and slept in between the layers as if we were in a sleeping bag. I guess this wasn’t completely effective–or maybe Mom didn’t like it–because we ultimately ended up with a different solution.
I finally got fed up with the bed mess–so I moved into the closet.
Yes, you heard me. I moved into the closet.
We were responsible for our own laundry by that point, but that doesn’t mean that we were actually responsible about DOING our laundry–so we generally had a nice soft foot or more deep collection of dirty clothes in our closet. I took my blanket and my pillow and slept in the closet. I imagine if my parents had found out, they would’ve insisted that I go back to bed–but I slept in peace in the closet for months, at least, if not a year.
I remember being thrilled that we were homeschooled, because it meant we could actually have fun at night–unlike all the kids in the neighborhood whose parents insisted that they go to bed while the SUN was still shining. We had a couple of friends whose backyard adjoined our way-back yard, and I remember many a night when they’d come back to the privacy fence that separated our yards. They’d say their good-nights, and maybe offer us a bit of their “midnight snack” (I particularly remember some Laffy Taffy). Then they’d go to bed while we waited for the sun to go down. Once the sun was down, you see, we could play kick the can with Dad.
While the rest of the school-aged crowd slept in their beds, a Menter kid could be heard with a shout resounding through the neighborhood: “One, two, three on DAD!!!” And another would shimmy his way over a fence, slink through the grass, and hide behind the well house before finally breaking free to kick the can out from under an unsuspecting watcher while yelling “Ollie, ollie oxen free!”
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