On Bedtimes

I think kids’ bedtimes are a scam. There’s no reason why they can’t stay up late. I’m pretty sure they were dreamt up by parents who just wanted some time to themselves. There’s no other logic behind it. Parents enforce it simply because they can, and it’s one of the many reasons why it’s good to be a grown-up and it sucked when you were a kid. I mean, when you really think about it, there’s no other truly-justifiable reason to send the rug rats to bed several hours before the adults. And don’t tell me that kids need more sleep than adults because kids are up at the crack of dawn on Saturday mornings – hours before their parents. Angry parents wonder why the hell little Johnny or Suzie is standing on a chair in the kitchen at 5:30 in the morning trying to pour milk from a gallon jug into a punch-bowl sized serving of Diggum Smacks. Well, it’s because you sent them to bed at 8pm and they’ve already HAD their nine hours of sleep! If you let them stay up when they wanted to, you wouldn’t have that mess to clean up.

It seems to me that bedtimes are an arbitrary rule – and probably a tradition so old that we’ve forgotten where it even came from. All we know is that we had to go to bed at a certain time when we were kids. Our parents did, and their parents before them. It probably comes from the old agrarian days when people lived in tiny wooden houses with thin, cracky walls, and kids had to be in bed asleep so that mom and pop could get about the business of making more kids.

Yes, I’m sure that’s it. Bedtimes were invented so adults could do what adults like to do but don’t want their kids to know they do. Like drink too much, watch movies with swear words in them, and screw on the kitchen floor. I know, you’re probably thinking, “But I don’t do any of those things.” Alright, fine. You just want to read a book. OK. Just don’t act like the kids go to bed early for THEIR health; you just want to be rid of them for a while.

I first began to think about this when I was watching late, late, late-night TV and wondered when the really late-night adult content had to give way to the really early morning kids’ content. I think if you have cable TV, somewhere around 4am the credits roll for Naughty Midnight Confessions and then Fraggle Rock comes on.

The truth is, adults OWN night time. That’s why teenagers want to stay out late. Because it’s the adult thing to do. Forget the rebellion, the swearing, the talking back, the drugs, premarital sex and driving a car. No. It’s really just being outside past eleven that makes teenagers think they’re adults.

We don’t want kids to know the things (prostitutes, gay sex in public parks… making moonshine) that go on at night, and we don’t want their cartoons and wholesome family programming intruding into our night-timeiness either. These worlds are separated by something we conveniently made up called a bedtime.

I’m not saying we have to change it. Screw ‘em; they’re just kids after all! They have to do what we say.

No. Wait. I remember when I was a kid, and in the summer time it would be time for me to go to bed and it’d still be light outside! That made me so angry. And I’m STILL bitter about it. Kids shouldn’t still be bitter about bedtime when they’re almost 40, so I guess I AM saying we have to change it. Or at least for part of the year. Summer’s coming. Jeez. At least let ‘em stay up until it gets dark. You can hold off on the dirty movies, booze and fornication until it gets dark can’t ya?



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