It starts with me giving Elijah his 2 vitamins (the yummy gummy kind) in the kitchen and letting him wash them down with a drink of water. I'm not sure how we got into the habit of taking vitamins at night. Probably because I take mine then, so it's easier to remember.
Afterwards we corral him upstairs and straight into the bathroom to brush his teeth. (If we let him stray from this path it takes an additional 10 minutes to dislodge whatever toy or book he has acquired and redirect him.) I'll be honest with you - sometimes this teeth-brushing exercise is the hardest part of my day. He's great about saying "aah" and letting me get to the molars. But when I ask him to say "eee" so I can do the front teeth he clinches his lips down tight and sucks air in. Every night it's the same thing.
Our "conversation" almost always sounds like this verbatim:
Elijah, now say "eee"... come on show me your front teeth... no honey... say "eee"... Elijah, obey Mommy... right now... say "eee"... No. Open your mouth... please honey... Elijah, disobedience earns a spanking... try again - say "EEE"... come on. I have to brush all of your teeth. You don't want any cavities... open... open... ugh!... [at this point, I usually just use my fingers to pry his lips up - which he hates!]... no, don't turn your head... hold still... we're almost done... just... let... me... get... these... bottom... ones... ugh! quick wiggling... almost done... fine. that will have to do... now spit... rinse... wipe your mouth... Mommy is exhausted, let's go to bed.
I know you're thinking - "if that's the hardest part of her day, then I'd like to show her my day."
After we go through that fiasco it's time to begin the real bedtime routine.
Get changed into pj's, grab a few books, get Elijah tucked into his big boy bed*, read the books, sing some songs, arrange his stuffed animals (aka, friends) just how he likes them, say prayers, kiss, hug, say I love you, talk about our busy day or what we'll do tomorrow for a few minutes, pat Mommy's tummy and talk about our new baby brother, kiss and hug one more time (for Mommy), say goodnight, and tip-toe out - don't forget to keep the door open Mom, peek back in and say I love you one more time on my way downstairs.
Whew. I'm ready for a nap just talking about all that! But seriously - it truly is one of my most treasured times of day. He's always sweet and cuddly before bed - gently stroking my face ("petting Mommy nicely" as he calls it). He loves to ask about his baby brother and what things will be like once we get to bring him home. It's just our special time and I'm so glad we get to share those few moments at the end of each day. Oh, to bottle up that sweetness and save it for a time when my baby is all grown up. sniff sniff.
So knowing how difficult it is for us to get Elijah's teeth brushed at night, would you believe that this morning we had a dental breakthrough! While I got ready for work in the bathroom, he kept busy by removing and examining the contents of the drawer. Just like he does daily. This time he carefully removed his little toothbrush and the tube of Sponge Bob toothpaste, took off the cap, and handed it to me asking "Mommy, can you put some of this on my toofbrush?". Normally I don't let him play with toothpaste, but today I was in a hurry. So I applied a tiny dab to the bristles, wet the brush for him, and turned him loose. I was totally surprised when I heard the unmistakable crunchy "brusha brusha" sound coming from his direction. I looked down to see him, not only trying to brush, but actually working up a good lather, cleaning and scrubbing the very same front teeth we fight over every night! And I'm not talking baby teeth brushing here. This was full-on, big kid, doing it right brushing, spitting, rinsing and the whole nine! I was so proud... and I told him so several times, gave him hugs, high-fives, and 2 stickers! I know he was proud too. He beamed when we went to tell his Daddy what an excellent job he had done. :)
People, I think my night time routine just got a little bit easier. Woohoo!
* I think must have forgotten to mention a month or so ago that we moved him into - as he calls it - his "really really cool, big boy bed." He LOVES it and has been doing wonderfully with it. I appreciate the fact that he can get up by himself in the morning and doesn't have to be stuck in the crib crying for me to come get him. He loves the freedom too. So far we haven't had one bit of trouble with him getting up when he's not supposed to.