I tried to tiptoe around the house while looking for Amelia’s unicorn pillow pet, she can’t sleep without it, but it wasn’t found and I landed back on the merry-go-round. Hazel heard me stomping, I’m not light on my feet, called for me, I paused, and opened the door.

“Yeeees. Goodnight.” I say in-between the quick opening and closing of her door.

“Daddy, wait, daddy, I want to tell you something…” Hazel sleepily beckons from bed, as I try to close the door, again. Hearing this, Amelia creeps out of her room to ask for a cup of water, more snuggle time, wonders if I found “uni”, and inquires how much I love her.

“I’m going for your water, not tonight, not yet, and to the furthest moon. Now, please get into bed. What Hazel?” mutters mechanically out of my mouth as I make my way back to Hazel.

“Daddy, I want to tell you something…” Hazel tries again, this time her eye’s spaced out searching for those moons I told Amelia about.

“Goodnight Hazel, I’ll see you in the morning.” I close the door, hear a few whimpers, and she’s asleep.

I get Amelia her water, we share a long hug, good nights are said, three times, and shortly after I close the door she’s asleep. Or so I think. A half-hour later she pops up at the feet end of our couch, I give a slight chuckle, and whisk her off to bed – for the last time.

It wasn’t “for the last time”. She came out, we hunted for and found “uni”; I knew she couldn’t sleep without him, why didn’t I look harder from the start?

Bedtime with kids can be a dance. They, like adults, need time to unwind, but there are nights that we simply want to tuck them in, have them close their eyes, and sleep. The more we rush them to the Sandman, the more resistance we get, the later they stay up, and greater frustration is felt by everyone.

What’s that adage? “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” True enough Mr. Franklin.