Bedtime conversations with my four-year-old have become a cherished way to connect with my son and build sweet, simple memories together.Most nights, about 15 minutes after putting Little Man to bed, he knocks on his bedroom door asking me to come snuggle him. (Don’t tell him he could just turn the door knob and come out himself.)
“Just 30 seconds,” he pleads with those big chocolate brown eyes.
Even though I’m tired, and I really want some time to myself after the kids go to bed, I say, “Okay, Buddy,” and we climb into his bed together.
It’s quiet, and–for the first time in many hours–he’s still.
And we just talk.
Some nights, we talk about our day, and he asks me questions about life.
He tells me “You and Dad are the best parents,” and I say a silent prayer of gratitude that his little heart has forgiven me for the times I was impatient with him that day. In one simple phrase, he validates all my imperfect attempts at motherhood and makes me think maybe I haven’t messed up too badly after all.
I tell him that he and Little Brother are the best kids, and he snuggles me a little closer. In that moment, I’m not thinking about the tantrums, or all the time I spent being a referee that day. I’m seeing him as the wonderful little person he is: full of life, and curiosity, and a desire to be loved. And I say another silent prayer that he knows that I really mean it when I say, “I love you.”
Tonight, he spent our snuggle time telling me ridiculous knock-knock jokes that didn’t make any sense and had no real punch line:
Banana come to give you a hug…(What???)
I laughed anyway. I told him some real jokes, and he didn’t get them. I laughed again, smiling at my little boy who is disappearing all too quickly into a bigger person who someday will actually understand why the chicken crossing the road is funny.
I kiss his forehead, and I take in the smell of his hair. I hold him close, willing myself to remember all the little details of what he’s like at this age. It won’t last forever, and I suppose I don’t really want it to, but part of me wishes I could just keep him this way…so innocent and excited about life—unaware of the complex problems that exist in the world. As far as he is concerned, the world is a safe place, and his biggest concern is what he is going to be when he grows up.
”Right now, I’m on zoo keeper,” he tells me, knowing that he’ll change his mind again.
I always stay more than 30 seconds, and that’s okay.
Some nights, when that knock comes, I sigh to myself, wishing that he would just go to sleep. But by the time I crawl back out of his bed, I regret having to leave him, because I’m not sure how much he’ll grow before morning.
Even though there are dishes to wash, writing to do, and books waiting to be read, I’m grateful for these few minutes together. They cost me so little, and I get so much back from this time spent with my little boy.
So, dishes, you can just wait a few more minutes, because I’m busy with something much more important.
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