I’ve never much liked surprises. I am a planner and I like to know what is going to happen next. Maybe that is why I feel so in sync with this stage of Jack’s development. Every night around 8:30 I tell Jack “soon we will go read books.” He brushes his teeth and does whatever he feels like he needs to do and then announces that he is ready to read books. We usually read three. I can switch out one or two but it’s good to keep a standard book in there (right now it is “Underwear Do’s and Don’ts” by Todd Parr).
After reading through two of the books, I announce, “Okay, Jack, this is the last book. Then we will turn out the light and go to sleep.” The last book is read and Jack lays down while I turn off his light.
“You’ve gotta lay with me and snuggle, Mama,” Jack tells me.
“Okay, I will lay down with you for a little bit, but then you have to go to sleep and Mama goes to her bed.”
I tuck him in and lay down beside him. We snuggle and hold hands for a bit, and then I tell him goodnight and walk out. He usually tosses and turns for 20 minutes or so and then falls asleep. Occasionally he calls out for me and I go back in to reassure him that everything is okay and he can go to sleep.
I’m continually amazed that this process works. I think preparation is the key. I let him know, sometimes several times before actually doing anything, that we are going to do XYZ “soon.” Most of the time I do not even have to tell him when it’s time to do these things…he tells me HE is ready. (Lest you think he is always this easy going, a random “okay, time to go!” will elicit tears at the drop of a hat.)
I actually feel like I know what I’m doing these days as a mom. I have my moments, of course, and I still struggle with guilt over various things, but I have Jack right there to show me that I’m doing a pretty good job. He is happy and healthy and smart and sweet and everything that I could hope to have in a kid. Bizarrely, I never prepared myself for that, and I’m totally enjoying this surprise.