I feel lucky that both of our children have generally been fans of their bedtime (so far, at least). Take tonight, for instance. I got home just after 6:30 p.m. Jeff had already fed Elena (because she also takes after her brother in the area of no patience when it comes to her dinner time) and not five minutes after I walked in, she was at the gate shaking it while she proclaimed, “bat! bat! bat!” Translated: I’m ready to go upstairs and take my bath and head to bed, people! But geez, it wasn’t even 7pm. Apparently she doesn’t realize that it’s okay for her to start stretching out her bedtime instead of being ready even earlier.
Regardless, I must say that after Jeff takes care of the baths and I chase her around to get jammies on and attempt to brush her teeth (she does not take after her brother in the cooperation department…or at least when he used to be generally cooperative pre-kindergarten, but that’s another post), our last minutes before bedtime are ones that I wish I could bottle up and take out whenever I need a smile in the years to come. Every night it’s the same routine:
I sit down in the rocking chair and she picks out a book and hops up with me. After a long run of various Sandra Boynton books, she has recently discovered that she actually has a Twinkle Twinkle Little Star book, so that’s the current favorite…I’m sure in no small part due to my singing voice. The book is not allowed to be held at first. It must be placed on the bedside table while she proceeds to get herself situated in the same exact position every night – with her back leaning fully against my stomach/chest. After she’s all situated, she unsituates herself to lean forward and grab the book and hand it to me, at which point she resituates in the exact same position. Finally, we are all settled. This is my signal that it’s okay to begin reading.
Once we finish the story, she proudly helps me close the book as together we declare, “the end!” Then before I know it (well, actually, I do know it because as I’ve mentioned – it’s the same exact thing every night), she’s putting the book back on the bedside table and sliding off my lap, headed straight cribside. One recent edit is that she has started to half attempt to hoist herself up, but of course I gently remind her that I’m there to help her with that difficult task she could never accomplish on her own! (Right?)
Once inside, now it’s time to get settled. Elena likes to sleep with several other items, but not just any items. Only certain items. Mostly books. So, each night we go through this ritual where she sits against the back of her crib while I hand her a set of books, one by one. I give her the first one and she carefully places it beside her. Once she’s satisfied with its placement, she signals that she’s ready for the next one. So, I hand her the second one and it’s carefully placed in another location. Never on top of the first book – but always in a place beside it. As if she had mapped it all out beforehand where each one would go. We go through the stack of four of five books until they are gone from the bedside table. Then she does what I must say is one of her cutest things. She puts up her hands and shrugs her shoulders and exclaims, “No more!” Recently, she had also added a little stuffed toy and a ball she loves into the mix, but as of a couple of nights ago they stopped making the cut. Tonight they were both rejected, handing them back to me as if she couldn’t bear the thought of them sharing crib space with her and her books.
Then it’s time for nighttime kisses. But these aren’t just any kisses. Air kisses are the preferred method. “Muah!” she puckers and then sticks her hand out to touch mine – palms meeting in the middle. “Night night,” she adds. It feels very sophisticated for a 22 month old, I must say. But, I just go with it. We do this about three or four times back and forth as I’m exiting the room until I bid her good night and close the door. I always wonder how many minutes it takes her after I’m gone to lay down and fall asleep, but I’ve never gone back in to check. I suspect it’s not long. I’m just thankful that 9.8 times out of 10, there’s never a peep out of her after the door closes. I”m also thankful for the precious little beings we have.