Not long ago, my teenage daughter had a friend sleeping over.
The girls prepped for bed in the usual way — PJs on, teeth brushed, blankets fetched, MadLibs handy — and retreated to my daughter’s room, after which Hannah took off her glasses, looked around and said, “OK. Let me go tell my parents we’re ready.”
Her friend looked intrigued, if not baffled.
“Oh,” she said. “Are they going to put on a show for us?”
We still laugh about this. I envision myself prancing into Hannah’s bedroom, vaudeville-style, with a cane and top hat, kicking my legs and singing “Hello mah baby, hello mah honey, hello mah ragtime gaaaal! …” like the frog in that old Merrie Melodies cartoon.
“No,” Hannah told her friend, chuckling. “I meant ready for them to tuck me in and say good night.”
Tuck you in? her friend no doubt thought. But you’re a teenager. Isn’t that … a little-kid thing?
Is it? Our family wouldn’t know.
For as long as my children can remember — and well before, since they were newborns the size of a watermelon, wearing sleep sacks and smelling like Johnson’s Baby Shampoo — my husband and I have tucked them in and kissed them good night.
To be truthful, the baby and toddler years were less “tucking in” than snuggling up beside each other and falling asleep. But ever since Hannah moved from our bedroom to a Bohemian-style mattress on the floor of hers, followed years later by bunk beds for her and her little brother and eventually to their separate rooms, our nighttime routine has been the same.
We debrief the day, relating any funny stories or bits of info we neglected to share earlier.
We look ahead to the next day, setting alarms and reviewing any planned activities.
I turn on some music or an audiobook. (Through the years this has replaced read-aloud time, which I miss. But frequently the kids grab their own books to read at bedtime, and that makes me happy, too.)
Then taking turns, my husband and I lift each child’s blankets around their shoulders. We give them a kiss. We say “I love you.” And we tell them good night.
I realize this won’t last forever. Hannah starts high school in the fall, and her homework could last until my own bedtime. These aging eyes don’t function much past 11 p.m.
But for now, I cherish our little routine, thankful both kids, now 14 and 11, still view it as a matter of course.
“We’re ready!” Hannah will call from her bedroom. Sometimes she’ll walk out to the living room where Randy and I are watching TV and tell us sternly, like a camp counselor, that it’s time for bed. She’s always been more crotchety than her years.
Even the dogs know the drill, following us into the kids’ rooms and back out again for one last pat on the head before the house calms and the lights go out.
No, we don’t “put on a show.” But I sure treasure each day’s closing act.