March 23, 2014

Sit with me

"Will you sit with me?"

After baths have been bubbled and stories have been read and snacks have been eaten and teeth have been brushed, the question comes. It's the last important question of the day.

I can't remember when the tradition started, but it began with Evie. She might have been a little bit afraid of the dark, or maybe she just enjoyed our company. She would ask "Will you sit with me for 5 minutes?" and one or both of us would stay in her room until she fell asleep, or until she was ready for us to leave, whichever came first. We cultivated the same practice with Felix, and now Sam and I each sit with one child every night.

Sitting with the kids is a welcome respite, a patch of peace in our loud, busy lives. Sam and I might catch up on our social networks or read a novel, the glow of our tablet screens illuminating the dark room. When there are always dishes to wash and bills to pay and things to do, it's a relief to know that, in this particular moment, the most urgent action needed of me is to be present and be still.

In Felix's room, a large and comfortable chair beckons a tired parent to sit and relax awhile. It's not uncommon, at the end of a long day, for one of us to fall asleep in the quiet darkness, awakened only when the other parent notices our extended absence. 

In Evie's room, seating options are more limited, so I stake out a piece of floor just below her loft bed. From her high perch, she carries on conversations. Deep questions tend to arise at bedtime, questions like "Is it good to believe in things?" or "How do people get money from their jobs?" 

Speaking upward to Evie's disembodied voice in the dark, it's both the best and worst time to talk to her. I have her undivided attention, she is at her most thoughtful, but I also worry about keeping her awake past bedtime. Waking her in the morning is never easy; this child seems destined to be a night owl.

Earlier this week, Evie informed us that when she turned 7 she would no longer need a parent to sit with her. After all, she's already been playing the grown-up role and sitting with Felix sometimes. 

Tonight, Sam, Evie and I all sat with Felix for a few minutes. I stayed in his room for another half hour, devouring the last chapters of a novel on my iPad, listening to him playing with his trucks in the dark. One truck was the parent, the other was the child. I caught snippets of their dialogue: "Can I watch a movie?" "OK, but you have to take a nap." "I don't want to take a nap."

By the time I stood up, Felix's breathing had deepened and slowed, the trucks had been quiet for some time, and I was sure that he was asleep. As soon as he heard me stand, he called me into the "cuddle tent." I lifted the covers over both of our heads, hugged him, and kissed him goodnight.

Emerging from his room, pondering the sweetness of bedtime, I hoped that Evie had forgotten her earlier statement about not needing anyone to sit with her. I know this chapter will end, I know that with each passing day our children are more independent and I'm proud of them for that - but it still breaks my heart.

I asked Sam whether he sat with Evie. He had. "She doesn't need us to sit with her anymore," he told me, "but she still wants us to." She had asked him whether her eyelashes were long, because she thought maybe they were, but it was hard to tell in the dark.

We'll have to check in the morning. Right now, it's time to sleep.

1 comment:

Sandi lindstrom said...

This is my most treasured time with my granddaughter. It is a time when I feel like it is not grandma talk, but one soul touching the other. It has been these times that have brought us so close! I ask her when she won't need me. She replies, "Never!" I can only hope!