A Lasting Nighttime Ritual
As I was wondering one day about trying to get my kids to think more positively, I unknowingly came up with a ritual that is still alive today. My boys were 5 and 3 at the time. Beautiful, energetic, kind . . . boys thru-and-thru. They loved to play with cars, ride bikes, shoot hoops, play baseball, splash in puddles, wrestle each other. We would play outside from the time I got off work until it was dark out! When it was bedtime, I would tuck the kids in and sing them a few songs, the Itsy Bitsy Spider, the ABC's, You Are My Sunshine and even Amazing Grace.
So, as I was trying to think of a way to end their day thinking about the good things I just started asking them, "What made you happy today?" Their answers of, eating chocolate ice cream and playing with my best friend, always put a smile on my face! It wasn't long before they were asking me what made me happy that day too! It became a fun game that my oldest really took to. Eventually my youngest son went back to wanting lullabies, but my oldest was hooked on the simple question. Once tucked in, we would race to see who could ask it first. Some nights he would be grumpy and say "nothing," but I'd keep at him and say that I needed three things that made him happy that day. He finally would give in and a smile would form on his sweet little face as he share his thoughts. I really enjoyed this little ritual and was dreading the day he would outgrow it.
It's been 11 years. Lots of things have changed . . . he's now a 16 year old driver, he's almost six feet tall, school and sports fill his every waking moment, several girl friends have come and gone . . . but one thing remains unchanged. There is rarely a night that goes by that as I stick my head in his bedroom door to say goodnight that he doesn't say, "Hey, get in here and tell me what made you happy today!" Or if I head to bed before he does and he sees my light still on when he goes to bed, he plops down on the bed and starts the questioning. When he spends the night at a friend's house, he sometimes even texts me at bedtime to ask the question. It's such a little thing, but it's precious to us both, I think.