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The Joy of Child Massage

It’s 6:30 p.m. and we’re starting our bedtime ritual. My daughters Wies (four) and Sara (two) both drink a glass of warm milk and then we’re off to the bathroom. On our way, Wies asks, “Mom, can we do massage?” “Okay,” I say, “I’ll put Sara down while you brush your teeth and then we’ll do a massage.” I take my time putting down Sara.

When I get into Wies’s room, she’s all ready to go; her clothes are in the corner, her blankie is spread on the floor, and she’s laying on top of it covered by a big towel.

“I got the cream, mom,” she happily informs me, while she takes off the lid.

“Can you draw an animal on my back?” she asks. Since a week ago, this is the big hit during the massage. Before this, it was the weather story. I do a couple of broad strokes over the towel and uncover her back. I take some cream and do some broad strokes.

“Do an animal,” she says impatiently, and with my fingers I draw an animal on her back. While she starts thinking, I start massaging.

“Mmmm a lion,” she says.

“No,” I respond.

“Mmmm, an elephant?”

“No,” I say.

“Where does it live?” she asks.

“This animal lives on a farm,” I tell her.

“A sheep?” she says.

“No, this animal says mooo, mooo,” I say.

“A cow!” she says happily, “Do another one,” I draw another animal and finish massaging her back. I cover her up and uncover one leg. Wies is thinking … “A dog,” she says.

“No,” this animal lives in the water,” I say. “A fish! That was easy, mom.”

We do a couple of more animals, also on her tummy when she’s turned over. “What’s here, mom?” she asks, while she points at her ribs.

“Those are your ribs,” I tell her, while covering up her upper body.

“This is hard,” she says, pushing on her ribs.

“Yeah, ribs are hard, because they’re bones. All bones are hard,” I say and I start doing some general strokes on her legs.

“Let’s look for more bones,” she says eagerly.

“Here’s a bone ... and here’s one,” she says, while scanning her body.

“This is not a bone, mom, this is not hard,” while she presses into her tummy.

“Look, this is a special bone,” I say while gently moving her knee cap, “this bone can move.”

“Yeah! Wow!” She’s amazed by her new discovery.

“Let’s see if you have bones,” she says, while she starts scanning my arms and face. “Here’s one,” she says, “and this is a big one” while she touches my forehead. “Yeah, you’ve got bones too!” she says, amazed by another discovery.

“Can I massage you, mom?” she asks.

“Okay,” I say, “Let’s do a couple of minutes and then it’s bedtime.”

“Okay,” she agrees. She takes some cream out of the jar and puts it on my arm. She starts rubbing my arm with her two hands. “I need more cream,” she says.

“No, you’ve got enough,” I say, looking at my white, creamy arm. I need to be aware that “massaging mommy” very easily turns into “putting a lot of cream on mommy.”

“Do you want me to do your favorite?” she asks.

“Yes, I would love to,” I say, and she starts tickling my arm.

“Ok, I’m done,” she says after a couple of minutes.

“Ok, thank you for the massage,” I say and give her a kiss. “You’re welcome,” she says and gets into bed.

After we’ve said goodnight, she falls asleep within a couple of minutes. It’s now 7:15 p.m. and the start of a peaceful evening and night.

By Martine Groeneveld Mom, Massage Therapist, RN

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