Well, sure, there are many things you have to hide from your children, but making beds isn’t one of them, right? Wrong.
I don’t know how it is in your house, but whenever my son’s bed needs new sheets, I have to sneak off and do it quickly and secretly. It’s like trying to feast on chocolate cookies when the kids are awake, but the payoff is much less sweet, and you have to wrestle a fitted sheet. Usually, I pull it off by timing my mad dash upstairs to avoid detection. When the kids are enthralled by a particularly captivating YouTube video of people yelling or when they wander off into the backyard to poke things with sticks, I sprint up the stairs, glancing over my shoulder a couple times to make sure the sound of my retreating footsteps hasn’t attracted any stragglers. That happens sometimes. I think I’m free and clear, but then I realize there’s one right behind me. It’s like when you walk through long grass and only later notice those little green, seedy hitchhiker things stuck on your socks.
Getting caught on the way up to do the job isn’t so bad, though. I just abort the mission and pretend I was doing something innocent like stretching my legs or glancing out the front window to see if there is any path by which I could conceivably escape the house and never come back. Getting caught in flagrante, on the other hand, that’s much worse. Many articles have been written about parents caught in the act but reading about it happening to someone else doesn’t prepare you for when it happens to you. One thing is certain, you’ll never forget your first time.
Recently, my oldest son caught me. It wasn’t the first time, but it never really gets any easier. His bed is shaped like a red jeep, so the easiest way to put the sheets on is to lift one end of the mattress out of the plastic casing, pull it down so it rests up on the foot of the bed where the spare tire is, put the sheets on, then slide the mattress back in. So, you probably understand my predicament. My children believe the one second it takes to slide the mattress back down into the bed is an opportunity for a thrill ride unlike any imagined by the most daring Disney engineer.
My seven-year-old walked in right as I was pulling the last corner of the fitted sheet onto his mattress. When he gasped, I knew all hope was lost.
“BENNETT! OLIVIA! Get up here! It’s time to go for a ride!” he yelled.
The sound of tiny footsteps scampering up the stairs was as adorable as it was soul crushing. Those steps were a harbinger of what was to come. My quick and easy solo bed making session had, in an instant, turned into a four-way struggle for bed making supremacy and a repeated joy ride operation that, if history was any indication, threatened to stretch on for hours if not days.
Though I was clearly demoralized, I attempted to continue making the bed like nothing had changed, even though everything clearly had changed. This is a thing I like to do in this situation and many others. When I know my kids are about to do something annoying, I pretend that it might not actually happen, so I can be annoyed not once, but twice. It’s a fun game I like to play with myself.
Speaking of fun games, when my four-year-old entered the room, he immediately demanded that I cease and desist so he could take over spreading out the top sheet and arranging it on the bed. I always enjoy when he takes over this task because he is both terrible at it and very slow. Three to six hours later, we had arranged the top sheet and comforter on the propped-up mattress. Finally, it was show time.
“Here we go!”
“Move over. Let me on!”
“I want to ride there!”
“No, not there! Here!”
“Jacob put his foot on my face.”
“Olivia keeps pinching me!”
The ride lasts less that one second, but on the plus side, there is plenty of time beforehand for fighting and complaining. And, after the mattress lands with a heavy thud into the Jeep, the fallout is as predictable as it is maddening. You see, because the children insist on riding with their chins hanging over the edge of the mattress, at least one of them gets injured approximately one hundred percent of the time. You would think this might dampen their enthusiasm, but you would be wrong. We have to lift the mattress back up and repeat the event countless times until every child has equal opportunity to bash their chins on the side of the bed, cry, and generally have a grand old time.
It's really magical. Kids are such a blessing.
As are bedroom doors that lock from the inside.
(THUMP. THUMP. THUMP.)
“Dad! What are you doing in there?”
“Oh, nothing. Definitely not putting sheets on the bed or anything.”