I find that each season brings its own unique set of bedtime challenges. In the winter, the kids are cooped up all day and have tons of pent-up energy when 7:30 hits and Mom and Dad are ready to turn into pumpkins. In the summer, long hours at the kiddie pool and playground ensure that the kids are more than pooped at 7:00, but the bright sunshine sends the message that the park is a much more inviting destination than bed, and even the thickest military-grade shades cannot convince little people who cannot read digital clocks that it is really bedtime.

Now when we bring Shabbat into the picture, things get even more interesting. Shabbat is ushered in right before sunset on Friday evening and ends when the stars come out the following night. In the winter, Shabbat comes in long before bedtime, and they even get to stay up long enough to have the Shabbat meal with us.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love having the kids at the Shabbat table. Making the blessings together, reviewing the weekly Torah portion with Y and R, hearing the kids talk about the comparative advantages of chicken soup with lokshin (noodles) or with kneidlach (matzah meal dumplings) are fatherhood heaven. (If T happens to read this, I am going on record stating that I prefer kneidlach.)

But still, I am more than happy when the clock changes and T and I get to enjoy a quiet meal to ourselves. There is something so soothing about sitting down together to a Shabbat dinner knowing that the kids are all safely deposited in their beds dreaming about whatever kids dream about.

The kids, however, are not nearly as thrilled. T serves them their own Shabbat meal late Friday afternoon, replete with kiddush over grape juice and home-baked challah. But they are not convinced. And so they intimate their displeasure. “How can we have a Shabbat meal without a tablecloth?” “If this is a Shabbat meal, how come the parents (as they call us) are not eating?” “I want to have my meal when you do!”

Chances are, if they complain long enough, one of the following two things will happen: Either we will found a nice chassidic enclave on the equator, where Shabbat comes in at a steady 6:00 p.m. all year long; or winter will come again.

My guess is that winter will come first.