Yesterday we had a great debate in our office. Someone mentioned that kids find bedtime a scary time. I was surprised by this. I personally don’t remember ever thinking that bedtime was scary and my kids never seemed scared at bedtime. (They didn’t always want to go to bed, but that is a whole other thing.) Also, I have been selling pajamas for fourteen years and have read probably thousands of emails of happy stories about children in their pajamas.
We conducted an informal poll of our staff and found that most of us were not scared of bedtime, but a few of us had children who were afraid of the dark. (Our staff is a mix of moms and college-age, young adults.)
Since I spend many, many hours of my life thinking about pajamas, bedtime and the like, I decided that I would share a few stories with you. Hopefully they will be helpful to some parents out there. Many of these stories were not funny at the time that they happened, but seem very funny to me years later.
I am not a doctor or sleep expert. I am just a mom of two kids who are now teenagers. (Since they have made it to be teenagers they are therefore experts on sleep.) I sell sleepwear for a living, so have heard from many parents over the years and look forward to hearing from many more to come.
Here are a few stories from my own childhood.
I spent my early childhood in Richmond Hill, Queens, New York. It was a neighborhood of old, wooden Victorian houses, big families, children playing kickball in the street, and the J train rumbling in the distance. New York City in the 1970s was rougher around the edges than it is today, but it was a happy time for families like mine and a fun time to be a kid.
We lived in a three story, yellow Victorian house that always needed painting. It had a lot of little bedrooms and a nursery off of the master bedroom. My crib was in that nursery. I guess my mom kept me in my crib for quite a while. One of my earliest memories was demanding to sleep in another bed. Why? Well, there is a bit of a story behind my request.
I was the youngest of three sisters. As the youngest, I was frequently tormented by my two sisters who were four and five years older than me. As a child, my middle sister had flaming red hair and a bit of mischief about her.
One day she told me that an ape lived under my crib. She and my dad were fans of the Planet of the Apes movies, which were big stuff at the time. So, I am sure that she meant for me to picture one of those apes living under my crib. I actually pictured something more like Magilla Gorilla. (A classic, Hanna Barbera cartoon character for those of you who are too young to remember.) Regardless, I wanted no part of sleeping in that crib once I thought that an ape (or Magilla Gorilla) lived underneath it.
So, I moved into the other twin bed in her room and happily slept in her room for years. (I foiled my sister by moving on from the ape trauma quickly.)
Years later my parents painted what had always been our playroom on the third floor of our house a beautiful shade of robin’s egg blue. They were making into a special bedroom for my redheaded sister so she wouldn’t have to share a room with me anymore. She slept up there for one night. Then I overheard my mom asking her why she wouldn’t sleep up there anymore. She said, Because there are monsters up there. So she went back to sharing a room with me.
Well, I thought that was crazy. Give up a lovely robin’s egg blue bedroom of her own just because she was afraid of a few imaginary monsters? So, we struck a deal. At the ripe old age of seven, I switched rooms with her and took the third floor room for myself. I might have let her scare me out of my crib, but by seven I was tough enough to sleep on the third floor by myself. Plus, I was armed with my blankey! (My mother was afraid I was going to take that ratty old thing away to college with me. That did not happen.) Having my own room was well worth it.
One pajama-related thing that I remember from that house was my redheaded sister and I dancing up and down the second floor hall singing, Feety pajamas! Feety pajamas! Putting on our footed pajamas for the first time each year was a joyous event. They were fun pajamas for us and we liked the way that they looked. I am sure that they were practical for my mom as the house was old and drafty. (I think that it was built before real insulation was invented.)
We moved out of that house on my eighth birthday, which was also the last day of second grade. It had a lot of great memories and I was sad to go.
So what is all of this supposed to mean or teach us now that we are all grown up? I hope now that I have my own kids I can try to keep my son from torturing his younger sister, especially at bedtime. (I said try. I can’t promise any miracles.)
Don’t forget to let your kids have their fifteen minutes of Feety pajamas! singing and dancing time before they go to bed. Who knows? They may still remember it fondly forty years later just like I do.