Because of my lengthy commute, usually I arrive home just in time for dinner and then bedtime. We have some bedtime rituals in our house that make chivvying two children off to dreamland just a bit easier for us: Lily and I have "a race" up the stairs. No matter who wins, it's always "a drawl," which is a cool thing because only if we have "a drawl" do we get to share a special "draw hug" involving an extra-tight squeeze around my neck. Since Lily expects this race every night, if I head up without her she gets quite upset. On the other hand, if I just suggest that tonight I might actually win the race (by getting a head start) she will immediately drop everything (including the "but I don't want to go to bed now, I'm not tired" game) and head peaceably off to bed. Then I brush her teeth, and we "race" to her room, where I read her two stories and sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." After that, I'll turn on her musical night-light, which she's had since she was born (sort of), at which point she'll usually tell me she can't sleep. So I will suggest she count something. The first time, I suggested that old standby, sheep. The next night, however, she said, "I counted all the sheep." So I picked some other animal. Then one night she wanted to count gummy bears. Ooookay. Then it became "gummy (somethings)" every night. Next we progressed to "chocolate gummy (somethings)," and we are currently counting "mint chocolate gummy (somethings)" each bedtime. Oh, and now I have to have her count TWO things. So tonight she's upstairs counting "mint chocolate gummy rhinoceroses" and "mint chocolate gummy giraffes."
David's ritual is much easier now, although it was quite nearly as complex in the past. Now, all I have to do every night is make sure to "give him his bed animal." See, once upon a time, when he was about 2, I said to him one night, "Good night! Sleep tight! Don't let the bed... um... (pretending to forget what bites you in bed)... alligators bite!" He giggled and said, "No, daddy, BUGS!" So the next night, I played for the laugh again (hey, I know my audiences!) and chose some other creature to lurk in wait in the bedclothes. We've done this now nearly every night since. He MUST correct me ("Bugs!!!") or the ritual is incomplete. Sometimes, when I'm away, I'll enlist Susie's help, either by giving her a list or a topic, and she acts as my proxy. Topic? Yes, since we've been doing this so long, we've made more of a game out of it. It started out by me trying to name a different animal each night starting with successive letters of the alphabet. Then it was all mythical creatures, then extinct creatures, and so on. The deal now is, I think of a unifying characteristic, and each night one animal from that group is the biter. He has a week to figure it out. He's quick, I'll tell you. He's never needed more than three days, but now he's testing me. Once he figures it out, he writes it down, and waits for the end of the week to see what animals I've chosen to fit the pattern. This week's group started on Tuesday, with penguin, followed by flamingo and tiger. And so I'll end this post the same way I ended my day with David:
"Good night! Sleep tight! Don't let the bed raccoons bite!"