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I close the cover of our last storybook and reach over to turn off the bedside lamp while my son scoots down under his covers.

“Good night sweet boy,” I whisper while leaning down to pull the blankets over his shoulders how he likes it, making sure both sides of his Superman cape are still secured to his pajamas top.

“Good night,” a little muffled voice responds. It sounds heavy and resigning. I wait for its follow-up. “I love you, Mommy. Goodnight!” But instead tonight there is only silence.

An unexpected silence that jars to recollection all of the challenges of the day. All of the reprimands, reminders and more reminders to “please stop” or “let’s go now” or “will you please!” But now in the quiet of the dark my thoughts drift past the dawdling and defiance to my little boy who is just a little boy.

I sit back down on the side of the bed and let the silence settle between us. The Buzz Lightyear nightlight does little to dilute the darkness but my extended arm finds little shoulder blades, which I gently begin to rub.

How hard it might be to be the middle kid sandwiched between two sisters. And how hard it is to just be four-years old sometimes. A little four-year old who covers misguided explorations with, “oops, sorry Mommy.” A lot of misguided explorations happened today I recall.

“You are our wonderful boy,” I begin sharing aloud.

”Noooo, I’m not” the muffled voice replies flatly.

“You are to us,” I begin, letting every day memories guide the observations I share about all the wonderments of our William and the joy and delight he brings his family and those around him. And how lucky we are to have such a special boy.

“So goodnight sweet boy,” I whisper, rising from the bedside. My hand reaches blindly to the thick mop of short hair and I lean over to grant a kiss on the side of his soft cheek.

A slumber-heavy little voice calls out “Stay and snuggle. Please Mommy.” And so I do.

“I love you, too, William. Goodnight.”

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