My daughter is the master at prolonging bedtime, and because on most nights I feel like I haven’t snuggled with and talked to her enough, I almost always give in and let her run the show. A great little opportunist, once she realizes I’m letting her take charge, she always stretches out the process of bedtime to excruciating lengths and practices.
“Remember when you used to ask me what my favorite three things are about Emma?” she asked last night.
“Yep, let’s do that. What are…” I began.
“Let’s do it for the whooooooole family,” she interrupted. “And let’s say our favorite… four things.”
“Ok. Go ahead. What are your favorite…” I began again.
“Four things,” she interrupted again. “Four things. Ok?”
I can always tell she knows when she’s pushing the limit because she repeats her desired outcome again and again, either fearful the approval has disappeared or just because she’s reassuring herself of the rules.
“Ok. Your favorite four things about Emma,” I said quickly before she could interrupt me again. “Go.”
“Umm… I just loooove the way she kisses.” She began to demonstrate by kissing the air. I suddenly saw a moment of clarity wash over her face as she said, “Let me show you how she kisses.”
I leaned in and offered my cheek, which she grabbed and promptly licked.
“Gross, Lydia. Don’t lick me,” I said, wiping the saliva from off my face.
“That’s how she kisses,” Lydia justified.
No, it’s not.
“Ok, anyway, what are three more things you love about Emma?”
“Three more. Remember. Three more things,” she reminded me yet again as if I hadn’t just said the same thing.
“Yep. Go ahead,” I said.
“Umm… I just loooove her eyesight,” she tentatively but proudly said, trying out a new word she wasn’t quite sure about.
“Hmmm… yeah, she has great eyesight, doesn’t she?” I covered up a laugh.
As she moved through the rest of the family, she complimented my own eyesight and sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in three different voices to describe what she looooves about her dad.
Her language became sillier and more ridiculous as the seconds ticked by. And as her laughter became more and more goofy, I took a deep, tired breath and stuck with her until the end of her long routine. Right when I felt like I had endured the last moment of 4-year-old goofiness I could possibly endure, my husband entered the room and settled in on the other side of Lydia.
I noticed her face positively beaming at having the undivided attention of both her parents. And while the silliness continued, I suddenly found the strength to bear more and more minutes of wacky 4-year-old behavior.
And maybe I even joined in a little bit.