Bedtime is so dang special. For the 22 minutes that we watch an episode of Adam West Batman or Garfield and Friends or something, I'm usually up and down, doing laundry and taking things out of the oven and stuff, but as soon as the show ends and one of us says "Time for bed!" I get the warmest feeling. Gbear is about to grab us by the hands and dance up the stairs. She's about to make up songs about socks and underwear as we hastily throw together a weather appropriate combination of clothes for her the next day, and attempt futily to "hide" behind the door of the bathroom before a parent can enter it, in the hopes of yelling "BOO!" to serious effect.
I'm about to make her sock creature Zarzak deny fervently that he's secretly eating the shea butter we put on her eczema and then fall asleep on her head. She's about to negotiate for extra "lay with me time" (which is always funny, because she passes out before it ever expires), and then I'm either about to lay there with her and answer 15 solid minutes of questions about how to understand other people's feelings, what it means to be brave, how music works, how to handle feeling weird about picking people to play with at recess, how our soul grows as we get older. Or alternatively, daddy's about to sing a medley of lullabies (he is WAY better at making actual sleep happen). And for the 10 minutes it takes her to fall asleep once she's stopped talking, one of us will get to lay there and cuddle with her. I get to feel her little fingers curled around my hands as I plant a few sleepy kisses on her forehead and say "I love you, baby. You're the best girl in the whole world." The whole thing lasts about 40 minutes (or 20 for MC -- damn he's good!) from Batman credits to tiptoeing out of the room. But it's such a special half hour.
But of course, whichever one of us is tackling bedtime also has to constantly strive to facilitate actual progress during all this. We don't always have time for a story, and there's tons of "Yes, that's very funny," "You'll have to look for that tomorrow," and "Ask after you're done brushing your teeth." We feel such awe at how joyous and affectionate Gbear is, and yeah, it's hard having to mind practical business during a nightly ritual in which our particularly lovey dovey girl gets extra, extra affectionate.
But I guess it's not that bad from her end. I say this because last night, I was hurrying her as she zoned out brushing her teeth, washing her hands, even taking off her sock, and after that last one, she looked up at me and said "I love bedtime."
I chuckled a little, "You like me hustling you along?"
To which Gbear replied "But you do that because I'm important."
Seven years old, you guys. I don't know if I had that kind of emotional intelligence in my teens! My mom (the family therapist) always said kids feel happiest and safest when they're given two things: 1) Praise, love, & affection, and 2) Structure. She always said "Kids feel for structure and boundaries with their hearts as if those were their parents' encircling arms. Without them, they feel lonely, frustrated and scared. With them they feel loved and important."
It's possible that my mom was onto something. Or Gbear is just the best kid in the world. Or both.