In our house, our kids still go to bed around the same time they did three years ago. They also still brush their teeth while having the same nonsense at the sink, the shrieks coming from the bathroom fill the landing and pierce my eardrums as proof of their timeless ability to still make a lot of noise at that particular time of night. It’s as if they just want to get one more loud scream out before they snuggle up for the night and dream of Dr Who’s Weeping Angels or fountains of chocolate appearing at the bottom of their bed.
The one thing that has changed since they started primary school is that they now want to read by themselves. Which in itself is fantastic. Sadly though, it is now a rare occasion that I bound in beside them, snuggling up with our feet touching as we coorie under the covers. We used to dim the lights and whisper in loud voices as we entered into the magical world of the latest paperback that lay across our knees on top of the duvet. Bringing the characters to life was always the best part. I used to pride myself on my pirate cackle.
Now it’s just a cackle.
I asked them both recently if they wanted us to read to them again and there was a slight pause. “Erm, well yeah but not every night” from one, while the other quietly agreed with his older sibling. Excuses, well they are in my eyes anyway, came forth from their angelic scrubbed faces, still glistening with spatters of toothpaste as their tired eyes begin to droop exhausted from the day they’ve just had.
Their ‘why is it not bottled and for sale?’ smell of soap and washing powder oozing out from their fresh PJ’s, reminiscent of when they were babies and the talcum powder smell that stays with you after bathtime, its scent used to linger for hours after they lay snoring in their cots.
Replies of “Once I’ve done my homework I’m really tired, so no thanks Mum” and “I’ve not to read out loud any more Mum, but you can sit beside me if you like”. Aha – a breakthrough!
Now let me think about that. Today we coerce our kids to be fit and healthy, join this club and that club, don’t eat this, don’t do that, remember your lunch money, have you done your homework…the tirade of questions we throw at them on a daily basis is long and frankly quite tedious for all parties involved.
So, I have decided that I will no longer step aside and become the redundant reader of bedtime stories. No, I will stealthily linger at their bedroom doors and nonchalantly ask “what are you reading?” as I slowly make my way over and find myself once again, touching toes and snuggling in beside them. I will listen intently to their every word as they decipher the mammoth task of explaining to their old Mum who Dr Numskull and Banana Pants are.
I bet you they don’t even notice me climbing in beside them. I will sit still and watch as their eyes dart from one line to the next, devouring the words into their minds like a sponge, as they discover the next part of the adventure written on the page in front of them.
And not a sound will pass their lips. I am no longer redundant.
It’s Just me, them and a book. Bliss.