The soft and innocent voice of the child who should have been asleep half an hour ago beckons from the dark at the top of the stairs.
“Dadda, will you sit with me?”
I know it is partly a ploy, a distraction to stay awake longer, but deep down we both know it is also a sincere request for a soothing presence to help a child fall asleep. How can I say no?
Yes, there are times when it seems inconvenient or when I am just a little frustrated because I assumed from the quiet upstairs that the children were already asleep. Sometimes I wonder what have they been doing all this time to stay awake before finally announcing themselves?
Tonight I was sitting contemplating a new blog post. I have not been keeping current on the blog – it has been a long time – months – since my last post. I can explain all that in future posts. Then that voice in a tone only imperceptibly different from little Cindy Lou Who called from the top of the stairs, “Dadda, will you sit with me?”
I have learned not to fight it. There will be a negotiation of how many minutes I will sit there in the dark beside their beds, waiting quietly, patiently, for them to fall asleep. Our girls are seven and five, almost eight and six, and I long ago saw that this request has nothing to do with insecurities or monsters under the bed. We as parents are big participants in the girls’ lives. I think they just like to end the day with one of us close by.
Sometimes it takes only a minute or two before the rhythmic breathing of slumber tells me they have drifted off immediately. Sometimes they are still awake when I leave the room, but I know that sleep is not far off.
Perhaps most importantly I have learned that those 10 minutes or more (it always becomes longer than originally planned) are as valuable to me as they are to them. What better way to be mindful and focus on the moment than to sit in calming reverie to sooth a happy child to sleep. What an opportunity to just be present with them. I think about the day, the next day. I think about what a soothing influence their lives are for me, for us.
“Well, Dadda, day by day, night by night, I just keep growing,” she answered.
A year or so ago, I asked her the same thing, how did the little baby that I held in my hands get to be this big girl? while she was dancing in the hallway on her way to bed in sheer bliss to no music other than what was in her head. In her sweet and knowledgeable sing song voice, she answered as she kept dancing, “That’s just the way life is, Daddy, that’s just the way life is.”
Sitting here contemplating where the time has gone since I last posted a blog is nothing compared to wondering where the time has gone since the girls were babies, toddlers, even pre-schoolers. I know the day will come when they stop asking Dadda to sit with them at bedtime. These minutes in the quiet of bedtime with them are ours to cherish right now. They know I cannot refuse. It may play out as a bit of a game, as I reluctantly say I will but only for a few minutes. But we all know how this is going to turn out.
“Dadda, will you sit with me?” Of course I will.