Lights out in the boys’ room, the evening’s music playlist agreed on, picked out, and switched on, Tom Petty wins out ... again. I dip and sway from bunk to bunk with tucks and kisses, avoiding too many licks from all of the animals who seem to gravitate toward our oldest’s bed, same place, different night; all the while trying to determine whether or not he’s ready to go to sleep ... OR ... he’s lying in wait to steal a tickle underneath my armpit. After proving to him, once again, that, yes, his mother is still bigger, stronger, and wiser tonight, I look him in the eye, kiss him full on the lips, and tell him how much I love him, how incredibly smart he is, and how lucky we all are to have him in our family. He is still young enough to smile with pride and reassurance, even as he gets one last giggle, on the fringe of madness, out of me. Satisfied, he turns his head and is instantly asleep. That’s our Will.
Stumbling over that same blessed toy robot thing that was lying on the floor the night before, which I distinctly remember hurling through their open closet doors twice this week, (I think it’s possessed), I then limp to our youngest’s bed, where he is usually lying sideways with his feet up against the wall, his Blankie and Butter Bear curled up around his neck and his head hanging over the side. Every night it’s the same.
“Did you go potty, Freddy? Freddy? Freddy, did you go potty yet?”
“Mom, I’m not sweepy. Mom, why do I have to go to bed without any cookies?”
“Freddy? Did you hear what I asked you? Are you listenin’ to me?”
“My belly hurts. Pleeeaaassseee, can I have just two cookies in bed? Pretty please, Greatest Mommy in the whole world?” His daddy taught him that trick. (He’s holding up three fingers, mentally notes the difference, and asks for three instead of two.)
“Freddy, I’m losing patience with you kid. Now, did you go potty or not?”
This first attempt at saying goodnight to Freddy always ends the same. No, he did not go potty when I asked him to, and yes, he’s going to go now, and yes, he’s going to start listening better, and yes, he can have A cookie in bed, but if he dares to ask for one more than ONE SINGLE COOKIE and not be happy about that, then he’ll have nothing! (When Harry Met Sally reference to follow: “Not even the pie?” “No. I’ll take the pie, but not heated.”)
Two down and one in the hole in this touchy-feely routine, “Who’s running this show?” I ask myself, as I move to the next room, knowing the answer lies in my heart. The evidence is overwhelming and undeniable.
Colleen! Strikingly beautiful, smart as a tack, Colleen! The little fox has been working on her plan for the last fifteen minutes or so, to keep me sitting on the edge of her little pink bed for as long as is motherly possible.
“Tell me a story about when you were little, Mom. A long one!”
She listens intently to my monologue, taking notes, I am sure, twirling the end of her purring kitten’s tail around her closed eyes and underneath her chin. All the while, the little fingers on her free hand clutch the hem of my shirt. This child’s desperation is heartbreaking ... IF, you’re never the wiser! I eventually leave her to her own resources for the night with no less than three lights streaming into her room for her to draw, read, or work on her next masterpiece, knowing it will not be the last I see of her before morning. Somewhere in the middle of night, I will be stretching out in our bed, only to realize that something alive is hugging onto my leg! It giggles and it has a bed of it’s own, but alas, it will only be young for a short time ... and so, I am more than happy to move it to her father’s side of the bed.
So, back to Freddy. The cookie is eaten. He did not choke on the crumbles. He is finally settled in his bed with his head on his pillow, and is now lying there in nothing but his tight little Spongebob underwear. Most, if not all of the last fifteen minutes that he’s been flitting about outside of Colleen’s bedroom door is forgiven and I am now in the homestretch! I will finally shed my bra and lay on my bed staring at the ceiling. Life is good.
When I sit down to give one last kiss to this adorable boy, it’s amazingly difficult letting go of his little face. His sweaty blonde hair fans back through my fingers and he smiles adoringly at me like the model child he so often can be. I can’t keep from kissing him over and over on his cheeks, and his eyes, and on the underside of his pudgy chin and on his little fingers playing with my hair that keeps falling into his face.
And then, he said in his most sweetest little four-year-old voice, “Mom? Are you done yet?”
“Ahhhhhhhh ... Feel the love!”