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HAGEN: Go to bed, dear child

She runs around in red-and-white, polka-dotted footie pajamas. It's bedtime for Grace Averill Hagen, our 2 1/2 -year-old daughter and first child. And yes, her middle name was used, and most parents know that means patience is wearing down for th...

She runs around in red-and-white, polka-dotted footie pajamas.

It's bedtime for Grace Averill Hagen, our 2 ½-year-old daughter and first child. And yes, her middle name was used, and most parents know that means patience is wearing down for the day.

Grace, however, seems to find that her most productive, awake hours of the day are right before and during bedtime.

Bedtime, defined in a parent's dictionary as, "the best and worst time of the day."

Who knows? Maybe we're just doing it all wrong, this bedtime thing.

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But we've set routines, read nighttime books that always end in that valuable, teachable moment and we leave her with an audience of stuffed animals for snuggling.

Yet, when it's bedtime, she realizes it, and all of a sudden she's acting like she's downed a pot of Folgers strongest brew.

Dancing, singing and working on another puzzle are just a few of her diversions before going to bed. And good luck getting her to calm down if she hears the Peanuts theme song, which we've listened to often on our Christmas mixes. Seriously, she looks just like Linus and Lucy jamming out to that piano.

Now, back to that routine. We stick to it fairly regularly - bath every other night, pajamas, book and then bed.

Everything goes smooth through that process.

But, when it's time to get up and leave the room, that's when the battle begins.

Phrases like, "I have to go potty," "(Will you) Sit down?" and "Bear book?" are all used.

The worse part is she asks so politely, too, so it's almost impossible to say no.

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It's usually at this time when all you want as a parent is to go to bed yourself, or at least finish out the night relaxing (and, yes, sometimes falling asleep) in the recliner.

But cries of, "Daddy, need you!" sound out every 10 or 15 minutes.

There must be a million thoughts that roll through her mind while she's stretched out in bed staying awake, when my lone thought is, "I wonder exactly how comfortable and warm my bed is right now?"

Parenting presents new obstacles each day.

When she was an infant, it took a few good months to get her to sleep through the night. Sure, some people don't like it, but the cry-it-out method works, folks.

And now, once she finally does get to sleep, there's really no waking up in the middle of the night ever. It's just getting her to fall asleep that's tricky.

Well, we decided to be trial-and-error parents.

After a couple weeks of being up well too late ourselves, we resorted to those how-to articles online. The trick was, apparently, to get your kid to feel calm and safe.

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Seemed simple enough.

So, we built a fort out of blankets in her room over her bed the other night. We also plugged in the iPad with some soothing music.

I'm not counting my sheep before they clear the fence, believe me, but it worked.

The bedtime battle seems to have ceased.

Opinion by Luke Hagen
Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at lhagen@mitchellrepublic.com.
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