September 13, 2007

While it lasts

I can remember thinking last May, just before his siblings came home for the summer, that With-a-Why was getting old fast and that he would soon outgrow one of my favourite bedtime rituals: reading books together. Oh, I think reading aloud is something that can be enjoyed at any age, but let's face it: most teenage boys do not think that snuggling with their mother at night while she reads aloud is the cool thing to do.

We don't have regular bedtime rituals in the summer. The kids go to sleep at crazy times. This year, they would stay up late jamming or playing cards, long after my husband and I had gone to bed, and in the morning, I'd find their sleeping bodies sprawled out in the living room, or sometimes in the boys' bedroom with an electric fan in the window. I missed reading aloud to With-a-Why, having that quiet time alone with him at the end of each day.

In the middle of August, my daughter moved into her off-campus apartment. Boy in Black's friends began saying goodbye as they all went back to college, and he moved into his dorm at the end of the month. Suddenly, evenings at our house were much quieter.

The day after Boy in Black moved out, as I was driving With-a-Why to his piano lesson, we began talking about school and fall and all the changes happening. The transition was a bit easier this year because we all knew what to expect. But still, it seemed a little sad to me that my kids were growing up so fast. With-a-Why had gotten tall over the summer, and his hair long. In his black band t-shirt, he looked more like a teenager than a little kid.

But then he shook his hair out of his eyes and said, "What book are we going to read next?"

"At bedtime, you mean?"
"Yeah."

I was so pleased that he wanted to continue the ritual that I didn't even jump in with any suggestions. But he already had a plan.

"Have you ever read Watership Down?"
"No."
"I think you would like it."

So now that my youngest two are back in school, I get some quiet time each night with With-a-Why, snuggled next to him on the bed while I read aloud. He sleeps in my daughter's room while she's at college; a small, pretty room with a pink wall and a white bookshelf. It's crowded on the little bed because we have to make room for his stuffed animals, and often one or more of the cats. I read a chapter or two, and then we talk about the day. When I turn out the light, he puts his arms around me and falls asleep.

I know that these cosy evenings of him snuggled up against me won't last much longer; he's the fourth child, so I know what's coming. But right now, I am enjoying these moments at the end of the day when he is still, just for now, my little boy.

22 comments:

Horace said...

I read an article in some random parenting magazine when ours were little called "The Magic Hour." And it really is quite magical. We're still reading shorter books to ours, but it's still such wonderful time of day, to read, and tell stories, and sing lullabies, and be close and quiet with our child. I can't wait to get to Watership Down and the Narnia books, and ...

But I don't want to think too far ahead, because just beyond those are the very spectre you raise...the days when the magic hour doesn't happen regularly.

Liesl said...

Bedtimes like this are often my favorite time of day. I'm so glad to know they don't have to end after the preschool years :)

OTRgirl said...

I love that he initiated the renewal of the ritual. It takes a confident kid to initiate and ask for what he wants. Of course, it's clear in your blog that any kid or college student who gets to hang out with you gains confidence.

My brother gave me Watership Down a couple years ago. It's a wonderful book. Enjoy.

my15minutes said...

Sweet post...I loved Watership Down (read as an adult) and hope you'll enjoy it too. Those teenage transitions are killer! When he was little my oldest boy used to have night terrors, and he'd climb in bed with us to calm down and fall asleep. I remember the last one...he was fourteen...and I thought at the time that it was, for me, a gift: the last time he'd come to me because he was afraid.

I'm glad it sounds as though your ritual together will last for a bit longer.

Songbird said...

With only one left at home, I am feeling the pressure of passing time keenly. You paint a very dear picture.

Nadine said...

So sweet!

I've never read Watership Down. The movie really scared me as a kid.

YourFireAnt said...

I haven't gotten to Watership Down yet. Do you have a speakerphone out there?

;-)

FA

sheepish said...

I suddenly miss being tucked in by my parents at night.

Colleen said...

After reading your blog, I find that I am always suddenly in want of babies.

Xtin said...

Aw, gee whiz ... I'm sentimental this time of year as it is, and every time I come over here jo(e) makes me all verklempt. ~sniffle~

Anastasia said...

ohhh watership down! the movie scared me as a kid, which is why i decided to read it. i always obsess about things that scare me. anyway the book is amazing. I love it.

Yankee T said...

For what it's worth, I still get the occasional call to sing goodnight songs to YD, who is 15.

I'm glad you have With-A-Why, and he has you.

delagar said...

My kid recently began to cry; she said she didn't want to grow up. Who, she said, would hug her when she grew up? I had to promise her I would always hug her. Forever and ever? she asked me woefully. And ever and ever, I said.

She's nine! Isn't that too young for nostalgia?

Magpie said...

That's dear. I have fond memories of a family vacation in the middle of nowhere, and Watership Down was the evening entertainment every night.

Anonymous said...

Hello Jo(e). I've been reading your blog for awhile now, and I love the poetic writing you share about your life/experiences. This is such a touching post that it literally brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing this moment.

jar said...

My youngest loved Watership Down. And I love this post.

chichimama said...

I am so glad to hear that With a Why still wants books read to him. I was getting a bit concerned that C's newly found reading ability would lead to the demise of an interest in Mommy read books.

Watership Down is a fabulous book. You'll both love it.

Kyla said...

Such a beautiful post.

I have Watership Down, but I've never read it. Maybe I will.

Ampersand said...

So sweet. I love the relationships that you have with your kids. And so much love.

julieunplugged said...

I read Watership Down to my kids in May. It is one of the favorite books I've ever read to them. I'm repeatedly amazed at the confluence of events in our lives. :) You'll both love it.

Marie said...

What a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing these moments. You'll love Watership Down. And it's a great book to read aloud. Rududu is just fun to say.

Silver Creek Mom said...

Gla to know I'm not the only one who still lays with ther echildren as they fall asleep. Yes it eatws up time that I could use. BUT the dishes wait and so does everything else. Nothing is more magical or comforting to me as laying there listening to my kids talk about their day and then hearing that gentle breathing as they fall asleep.

:)