When they were little, I got them to bed earlier. I used all kinds of tricks.
"First one to brush his or her teeth wins!!"
Yay! Up the stairs they go. This worked a whole lot better than It's-Time-To-Turn-Off-The-TV-Wait-A-Minute-Mom.
Scream, yell and the "I'm-Just-Saying-Goodnight-to-Daddy-and-then-to-my-older-brother-and-then-to-my-younger-brother-and-then-to-each-guinea-pig" routine. (with an aggrieved air).
So now they're tweens and teens. They don't fall for stuff like, "Here's a dab of Barbie lipsick, one teeny dab, and you'll feel great and be able to run all the way to the soccer field to pick up your brother!" (One smear of Mom's lipstick).
Or, "Here, you can have your tomato back!" (Child screaming; wants not another one, Mommy, but the one Daddy just swallowed). At which point Daddy affects to vomit up a cherry tomato that he's concealed in his hand, and tantrum ends abruptly. Child very impressed with Daddy.
Well, now it's more like this:
Me: "Okay, Sweetie, turn it off at 8:15!" 8:20 and 8:30 roll around, I run down to switch off the set and it's "You did NOT say anything about turning it off then!"
Meanwhile, the nine-year-old pretends not to be able to get into bed without standing precariously on the mattress.
"Just sit down!" says I, anticipating broken ankles or heads. Three minutes go by before she does. Endless goodnight kisses. Back to brother. Oh, he's finally upstairs but BRING ME MY RETAINER.
Then there's the fifteen-year-old. We send him upstairs with strict instructions to be in bed, lights out, by ten . . . it's a school night. Weekends he can go to bed when he wants.
So last night around 11:09 I knock on his door, because I'm hearing loud laughter and giggles from the computer. And from him.
"Waitasec!" and he unlocks the door and just as I'm opening my mouth to say, "It's a school night and you're supposed to be in bed because you have to be up by 6:15," a very sweet girlish voice with an enchantingly unplaceable accent wafts out of the computer: "What did your mother say?" she inquires.
I address the computer: "His mother says it's a school night and it's bedtime!"
"My microphone is off!" yells the fifteen-year-old.
"Please! Go to bed!"
"Leamealone. I will."
And so I toddle off to bed, and my husband and I think it's nice the girl sounds so nice, and we fall asleep. And it is possible to rouse the kid in time for school in the morning, so I guess everything ended happily after all.