I’m showered and in my pajamas, reading a book in bed. The kids have been tucked in for two hours at this point. Suddenly, I hear a door open. I’m not sure which child is up until our door is opened without a knock. In toddles the cutest person in our house, all smiles and giggles. He rushes to my side of the bed with a big smile and a “hi mommy!”
This is a parenting test. I know what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to get up and walk him back to his room, explaining that it’s bed time and he needs to stay in bed until it’s light outside. He needs to learn that night time is for sleeping, not for playing. He needs boundaries.
My mind flashes to the future. I see the cutest person as a teenage boy. Perhaps he’s moody and sullen. Maybe he’s a polite, well-spoken young man. If he follows in the footsteps of his father (who followed in the footsteps of his own father), he’ll be a smart-ass with a beautiful heart who will do anything for anyone in need. No matter who he becomes, he’s not going to want to snuggle in bed at night and, quite frankly, neither will his mother. This moment is a fleeting opportunity.
So I grab my smiling, giggling little boy and lift him into the bed. He immediately snuggles up to me and I feel the softness of his fleece footie pajamas – the ones covered in “ah-panes!” I kiss his head and we tickle and giggle together. He sucks his thumb and tucks his head under my chin. As I hold him close, I’m reminded of how children seem to be shaped to fit the contours of our bodies. In a few years, he’ll feel boney and angular like his sister, but for now he still feels like a baby with his squishy legs and round belly.
After a few minutes, I pick him up and carry him to bed. I tuck him in and kiss him, telling him he needs to stay in bed until morning.
And he does.