There is something about bedtime that erases all kid-related unpleasantness from the day. When I see my little boys snuggled up in their covers, with the bedroom lights on low and the fresh smell of toothpaste on their breath, it's as if all my boys' best qualities have risen into view right along with the night moon.
They are cute and sweet and clever and oh, so precious.
And that may be why during bedtime long ago, I started telling them secrets. I believe the secrets were originally a way to distract them and settle them down; maybe keep one quiet while the other prayed? Sooth hurt feelings of one when the other got to pick the night's CD.
However it started, this is what happened: I leaned in close to one of my children and started whispering. "I love you very much. Today when you helped me take the garbage out and I didn't even have to ask, that made me so happy. I love the way you are responsible with practicing the piano and can tell you are learning a lot. I love to hear you play the piano. I am so glad I get to be your mom."
As I whispered these secrets, whoever I was whispering to would get very still and very quiet. And usually, after I finished telling the secrets, they stayed still and quiet. Win-win!
The other day Jonah and Isaac reminded me that I hadn't told them bedtime secrets for a while and said it was something they both really loved. (Just as a side note, and in case the sound of little birds chirping and sappy violin music is getting too loud, this all stemmed from a conversation about whether or not I'd ever spanked my kids. I have, and what little spanking occurred, generally occurred around bedtime. But miraculously, the boys don't ever remember being spanked. They DO, however, remember The Secrets.)
That night at bedtime Jonah reminded me, "tell us secrets, mom." So I did.
I leaned in close and whispered the best things I could think of: How Jonah is so creative and expresses complicated ideas through drawings and how wonderful I think he is. I went on and on and was pretty proud of my original and meaningful examples of Jonah's unique personality and positive qualities.
I am creating wonderful memories. I am a Good Mom!, I thought
I finished and stepped back, ready to bask in the look of wonder and confidence in Jonah's face that I'd created.
"That's exactly what you said last time," he said.
"I did?" Hadn't it been more than six months since the last time I did this?
"Yep. Can I get another secret?"
Um, I kind of said everything I could think of.
"Only one secret a night," I said quickly. And while I pondered the rejection of my verbal gift, any potential disappointment was outweighed by the realization that he'd remembered.
But best of all, he doesn't remember me ever spanking them.