After Bedtime

This week, we will celebrate the holiday of Shavuot. On the first night, many Jews have the custom to stay up all night to learn Torah, showing how excited they will be to receive the Torah again in the morning. What follows is not a Jewish story, but it is about how much children yearn to stay up late.

It was Leo’s bedtime. He took a warm bath and slipped into his favorite pajamas, the ones with basketballs all over. He drank a glass of milk with his graham cracker then brushed his teeth. His parents sent him off to bed.

“Goodnight!” said his mother.

“Don’t let the bedbugs bite!” added his father.

But Leo couldn’t sleep. He heard his parents moving around downstairs. He wondered what they were doing down there, after bedtime.

Once he had asked, “Dad, why do I have to go to bed at eight?”

His father had answered, “A growing boy like you needs rest so you can play in the morning.”

“Don’t you need energy for work in the morning, Dad?” Leo had asked.

“Yes, Leo, but I’m not a growing boy anymore. When you are a big man like me, then you will be able to stay up a little later, too.”

Leo sighed and wished he had grown big already.

After bedtime, Leo thought, Mom and Dad probably play with my Legos. I’ll just bet that Dad builds big skyscrapers, and then knocks them down, one-by-one.

And Mom is busy pushing my trains down the tracks, over the bridges and through the tunnels. She keeps adding more and more cars to the train, until the train gets too long and won’t stay together anymore when it rounds the corners.

Next, they take turns riding my pogo stick. Because they’re grown up, I’ll bet they share nicely and have no fights over whose turn is next.

After bedtime, Mom and Dad probably play ball in the house. Maybe that’s the real reason Mom had to buy a new lamp last week.

All that exercise must make them hungry. I’ll bet they order pizza. And, of course, they have ice cream afterwards. That must be why the carton empties out so fast!

Next, Mom hops on my bike, and Dad grabs the scooter. They race around the house, starting at the front door. The foot of the stairs is the finish line.

When they reach the stairs, they go to their room and change into their pajamas. They climb into bed. Are they ready to sleep? Oh, no, they’re not! They jump up and down on the beds until they can touch the ceiling.

Then they pick up their pillows. Mom shouts, “Pillow fight!” They whack each other with the pillows until they really and truly are tired and can fight no longer.

Finally, Mom and Dad are ready to sleep. Maybe they tuck each other in. Mom says, “Goodnight!” and Dad says, “Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

I’m going to catch them tonight, thought Leo. Slowly, he crept out of bed. He tried very hard not to make a single sound as he tiptoed down the stairs.

Peeking around the corner, he found his parents in the kitchen. His mother stood washing dishes, while his father swept the floor.

“Leo’s getting very big,” said his father.

“Yes,” replied his mother, stifling a yawn. “Maybe we should let him stay up a little later.”

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