Is not an original post title, but is the phrase I most think about getting tattooed across my fucking face every evening as the clock ticks round past dinner time and I attempt to get my children to go to their beds and bloody well stay there.
It is like I'm speaking in Mandarin. Actually, no, strike that, because if I was speaking in Mandarin, I actually think they would have learnt the bloody language by now. Or at least learnt the gist of what I am saying, which is essentially always 'GO TO YOUR BEDS AND STAY THERE UNTIL IT IS MORNING'.
The debacle which is herding them into bed usually starts immediately after dinner when, without fail, it will appear to come as an abject surprise to them that they actually have to go to bed. Upon realising this, they will then waste at least 20 minutes telling me how horrendously unfair it is that they have to go to bed, that if I had any ounce of decency in me as a human being I would never make them go to bed, and that their lives have effectively been ruined by the fact I don't allow them to remain awake 24/7 and run themselves into hysteria.
Once we've got over the fact that yes, it's true, I really am going to make them go to bed, just as I've done every single night of their lives so far, and once they've finished telling me what a terrible person I am as a result, their attentions turn to the fact that, not only am I going to make them lie down and rest, I'm also going to avoid them rotting and festering away and am going to insist on some kind of water-based cleansing activity.
It is as though I've suggested corporal punishment.
'WHY? Why do we always have to do this? Why do you make us? I don't want to. It hurts. I CAN'T.' A good half hour can be wasted as they argue against the merits of bathing or showering. And, if I consider adding the threat of a hair wash in there as well? They will still be arguing with me about how horrific their life is by the time they get up the next morning.
Once washed, you'd think the process would speed up a bit.
The next step is tooth brushing - takes 15 minutes, minimum, with no more than 30 seconds of those 15 minutes spent with an actual toothbrush in their mouths - followed by what is apparently the very onerous task of finding and putting on their pyjamas. To this day, neither of my children have ever managed to find and get into their pyjamas without assistance, which means that, unless I can be bothered to get up off the sofa and herd them around the house like an elderly sheepdog (highly unlikely), they will go to bed sleeping in whatever insane combination of clothing they can find. Highlights include Mr Jamie wearing nothing but a pair of Beth's pants (3 sizes too small), and Beth putting herself to bed in full football kit, complete with shin pads and studs.
After that, you'd think they might actually make it into bed. Don't be fucking ridiculous. They know that the next stage in the process is to spend at least 25 minutes employing themselves in the most ridiculous yet apparently essential activity that they can find. Tonight they formed a ukulele band, apparently called The Crazy Ukuleles. I managed to not drink gin in response to this, which I think is a sign that I am growing as a person.
Eventually, eventually, I will have shouted at them sufficiently for them to capitulate and actually get into bed. I will read them a bedtime story, allegedly designed to calm them down and get them ready for sleep. I might as well simply dose them up on E numbers for all the good it does.
The next hour will be spent with me sitting on the sofa fielding increasingly ridiculous reasons as to why they need to be downstairs and not in bed. In recent weeks we've had 'I just need to be close to you', 'Do you think Lionel Messi is in bed yet?', and 'I've put a toy on my windowsill that scares me, so now I'm scared'. The latter was actually dealt with relatively quickly, with my pithy response that, if they thought that was scary, they should wait to see how scary I was able to be if they thought about coming back downstairs again...
Finally, finally, finally... I will crack and go upstairs to bed myself. This seems to sedate them - after all, there's no point repeatedly coming downstairs if it doesn't massively inconvenience at least one of your parents - and they will eventually fall asleep.
The next morning?
'Why are you making me get up? I'm so tired. Why are you so MEAN?'