Bedtime Stories: Olivia & the Countdown to Getting Busted!

This post was inspired in part by Carl Honoré’s wonderful talk at PopTech on his book In Praise of Slowness – specifically the temptation of the one-minute bedtime story. Someday my girls will thank him. For thanks to him I take a deep breath and remember to embrace the bedtime moment.


This is Olivia.

She is good at lots of things.

She is good at wearing me out

…since my daughter will only let me read this book to her. She doesn’t wear my daughter out.

Olivia lives with her mother, her father, her brother,

and two pets Perry and Edwin whose names really don’t work well in French.

When Olivia gets dressed, she has to try on everything.

That’s 17 outfits, many of which could be called different things: sweater, jumper, turtleneck or ball-gown, opera-gown, evening-gown, opera dress… And if mummy doesn’t get it just right, Olivia’s #1 Fan reprimands me and makes me start over.

Every day Olivia is supposed to take a nap.

Mummy hates this page because how do you translate “It’s time for your you-know-what” to French? And what about the implied lack of obedience with the next dancing two-page spread headed

Of course Olivia’s not at all sleepy.

#1 Fan loves these 2 pages. “She’s dancing!”

On rainy days, Olivia likes to go to the Museum. There is one painting Olivia just doesn’t get.

– a Jackson Pollock so Olivia is clearly in good company.

“I could do that in about five minutes,” she says to her mother.

#1 Fan’s mother worries that she will also try it at home.

Time Out (and again this in French?!)

“Time out on the naughty steps” echoes #1 Fan.  Maybe I will be saved by #1’s glee at seeing others punished?

After a nice bath,
and a nice dinner,

Mummy wonders why they couldn’t have included some vegetables here.

it’s time for bed.
“But of course Olivia’s not at all sleepy”

Again sowing the seeds of discord.

“Only five books tonight, Mummy” she says.

Followed by:

Well Olivia’s really pushing it. And her mother – I mean what kind of example is she setting? Olivia can’t be more that four or five. Is she negotiating with a four-year-old? And who gets the better deal – they settle on THREE? Right there in black and white, the message:

Children, bug your parents and you will get your way.

Mummy’s adjusted version:

“No Olivia, just one.”
“How about four?”
“One.”
“Three.”
“No Olivia. Just one
and that’s it.”

#1 Fan currently recites this ending along with me. But it is only a matter of time before I am busted.

 Night night Olivia. Tomorrow, same time, same place.