Despite my best efforts at strategery, the space and time I cannot adequately divert to a subject other than Husband’s absence is bed time. This is particularly true for Sweet Pea, the Second Grader who resides with me and bears the unfortunate task of carrying on my emotional DNA gene. But it seems that after many tearful nights, Sweet Pea has finally found her own way to cope with this dilemma.
Bedtime was her special time with Daddy. She is the big-time snuggler of the family, and she plays this card to her advantage. I am constantly amazed at the promises that get made during this secret snuggle-whisper time, and I predict that one day she will use this cunning method to secure the rights to an expensive prom dress, followed soonafter by her first car.
There was, before Husband’s departure, a tradition that involved me tucking the kids in, followed by a round of extra prayers and kisses and hugs by Daddy. Sometimes he would arrive in their rooms after the monkeys had fallen asleep, so there was a semi-drunken response by a dream-bound child, but it was always a sweet ending to everyone’s day (including mine, if I had the good fortune to spy from the doorway).
Last week my mom was staying overnight, and she took advantage of the privilege of reading a story and doing tuck-ins. I was working away downstairs so I didn’t come up to kiss them for some time.
The Preschooler was, of course, still awake when I finally came up. That child does not sleep. Since I’m making predictions today, I will go ahead and predict that he will become a late night talk show host, dance club owner, or ER doc. Let’s all hope for talk show host, because he’s one funny little dude, and I’m not sure the nurses (or patients) would fully appreciate his brand of humor.
But Sweet Pea is a sleeper as much as she is a snuggler, and had long since passed into a world filled with unicorns and purple sparkly parties with fairies welcoming her into their world with a princess indoctrination party. I looked at her for a moment, soaking in the sweet curve of her velvety cheek, and noticing how her eyelash rested gently on the edge of the pink flush. She is seven now, but the part of her face where her closed eyelash meets natural blush of her cheek has always looked the same. I listened quietly to the soft whisper of deep sleepful breaths. She will hate me soon, I thought. But for the moment, she still says things like “I hope I can be just like you, Mommy. I love you in the whole wide world,” so I’m treasuring (and secretly recording for playback) every precious moment.
I decided I couldn’t stand there staring forever. I eventually leaned over, and I kissed her little growing cheek, and I said, “Goodnight, Sweet Pea.”
She barely woke, but she whispered back: “Goodnight, Daddy. I love you.”
OH, no, honey, this isn’t Daddy, he’s … but I stopped that train mid-thought. And in as low a voice as I could muster through my tears, I did my best Husband impression. I got very close to her ear and I whispered, “Good night, Girly Girl. I love you, too.”
* * *
And that night, she was put to sleep by her Daddy.
Touche, Sweet Pea. Touche.