Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bed Time Rituals

When Casey was first born, I made up a song for him and I sang it over and and over again. It's hard to get a sense of it without hearing the tune-- also one I think I made up-- but here are the lyrics:

I love Casey, yes I do,
I love Casey, Casey boo,
Casey, Casey, Casey is my son.

I love Casey,
I love Casey,
I love Casey,
Oh I love Casey and he loves me.

When Marcie was born, I modified the words-- because obviously she's not my son. Her version goes like this:

I love Marcie, yes I do
Marcie, Marcie, I love you
Marcie, Marcie, Marcie I love you, I do.

I love Marcie,
I love Marcie,
I love Marcie,
Oh I love Marcie and she loves me.

I stopped singing Casey this song when he was around 2. I didn't just sing it to him at night-- I'd sing it any time I was rocking him or he was upset. Same with Marcie. And when Casey was 9 months old, I started law school, which I didn't finish until Marcie was 18 months old-- so I wasn't the one putting the kids to bed. But I still have my bed time routines. Mainly with Casey. For instance, when I go in to Casey's room to kiss him good night, this is what I say every night-- even if I am away and I call him at bed time:

Casey, I love you when you're happy
and I love you when you're sad.
I love you when you're silly,
and I love you when you're mad.
And I even love you when you're being bad.
I love you always, always, always and forever.

After about a week, he started filling in the adjectives or making a face to demonstrate the corresponding emotion. And then he began insisting he push back the hair on my forehead so he could kiss me on the forehead. Then he pulls back his own hair so I can kiss him on the forehead. And then we say good-night and I walk out the door, turning off the light as I leave. My ritual with Marcie is similar, except that I just do the very last line. And she giggles with giddiness when I say it.

Well, this afternoon when I was putting down the kids for their naps after a pretty wonderful morning taking Casey to see Bee Movie, to go grocery shopping, and to then stop at Starbucks (at his request), I leaned over to kiss him goodnight. I don't usually go through the whole ritual for nap time. But today he said he wanted me to tell him, so I started. And he stopped me. "Not that one, Mommy," he explained. "I love you always, forever, baby boo, baby bee." He half-said and half-babbled at me.

"The song?" I asked.

And he nodded yes. Do you know the one he was talking about?

When Casey was very, very young--before we got our referral for Marcie-- I used to read him a book before bed called Love You Forever. It's the story of a mother who rocks her son to sleep each night, singing him a song with the words:

I love you for always
I love you forever
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be.

I used to sing those lines of the book to Casey (to the tune of "On Top of Old Smokey" or "On Top of Spaghetti"-- which is the same tune, of course). At the end of the story, the boy-- then a man with children of his own-- wraps his mother in his arms, rocks her and sings the song (but instead of "baby" says "mother"). It's a beautiful story, and I used to choke up every time I read it to him. It just speaks to be about the unconditionality of a parents' love. And it's interesting to me that Casey connected that song with my little night time rhyme-- because they're both about the unconditionality of my love for him. It's particularly surprising he remembered the song because I know I stopped singing it when he was 3 or so, right around the time we refused to refer to him as a baby anymore, because we wanted our big boy to be toilet trained.

Anyway, today at nap time, I wrapped up Casey in my arms, and I rocked him while I sang the words. And it struck me how much we teach our kids without even necessarily trying-- or knowing that we're doing so. And this notion of unconditional love, it's so very, very important to me that my kids understand the depth and breadth of my love for them-- I don't know if it's something all parents worry about or if my concern about expressing it is because my kids are adopted. It's just really, really important to me that they know how wanted and loved they have been and will be-- always, always, always and forever.

1 comment:

Danielle said...

LOVE the new masthead. I have been trying to do that for weeks. How'd you do it?!?
Miss you.