Your 20-step guide to bedtime, by my three-year-old

Step one: Begin early. About 4pm, focus on appearing very tired. Give one-word answers to questions and gaze off into space at regular intervals.

Step two: About 5pm, start complaining. If your parents ask you to do anything – at all – there’s no need to comply. Simply say “I’m tired”. Or whine. That’s fine, too.

Step three: When your flustered parents give you dinner, stare at it forlornly. When one suggests you might be too tired to eat, nod imperceptibly. If someone asks if you think you could manage anything… at all… look up dolefully from under your eyebrows: “Maybe four crackers.”

Step four: Once you’ve got what you want, you can experience a dramatic surge in energy. Suggest your parents take you on in a running race.

Step five: When it’s bath time, propose a game of hide and seek. Before anyone has a chance to disagree, run away and hide. Alternatively, if anyone is trying to put a sibling to sleep, use the opportunity to share your singing or kapa haka skills with the rest of the family.

Step six: Practice your kickboxing on your parent/s as they carry you to the bath.

Step seven: Refuse to get out.

Step eight: Only brush your teeth if they let you stand on the bathroom vanity and eat the toothpaste.

Step nine: Negotiate three stories in bed.

Step 10: Remember that you didn’t have any water with your dinner. Shout “I’ll get it” and run out of the room before anyone can stop you.

Step 11: Return. By now your parents are so close to getting you into bed that there’s an extra sense of desperation in the air. Request a minute to look out the window at the planets.

Step 12: Even if it’s pouring, insist that you can see Venus.

Step 13: Ensure that everyone else in the house has also seen it.

Step 14: Finally lie down but commence a series of rolls back and forth across the bed so you get tangled in the sheet.

Step 15: Request your mother’s company once she’s helped you free.

Step 15: Ask her to make up a story in which you and your friend go on a long, convoluted bike ride that involves monsters, a river, the sun and jelly.

Step 17: Ask for a second glass of water.

Step 18: Then the toilet.

Step 19: Change your mind and request your father’s company. Extra points if you shout: “I don’t want you!!!” At your mother.

Step 20: Lie across your dad’s face for 32 minutes until he falls asleep through lack of oxygen. Go to sleep yourself.

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