Not just sure how I got into this bedtime routine when my kids were young, but ever since I can remember, I have laid next to my child briefly as they were going to sleep and asked them about the “funnest” and “baddest” thing that happened during the day. (I know that is bad grammar, but I guess it was well understood by a child!)
Tonight, as I talked with Louisa, I couldn’t help thinking about what a powerful influence on my mothering decisions those 5 minutes talks have had. How they have given me a glimpse into my children’s hearts!
Something about laying together in the dark makes a child quite talkative and open. And I always learn something—I’m always in for a surprise! I’ve marveled at how simple it is to make a child happy. Usually their “funnest” thing was nothing I would have guessed: finding a snake, going to the park. And it was often very easy to fulfill, like swinging them on the swing, playing a game with them, coloring, doing crafts, playing with their toys with them, taking them on a walk, making a treat with them, or jumping on the trampoline together. And as they got older, taking the time to focus and talk with them with privately seemed to be very important and “funnest” for them.
And, the “baddest” things were things I would have never imagined! And sometimes I doubt they would have confided to me in the daylight. Getting hurt was generally the “baddest” thing: a skinned knee, a bee sting, or falling off their bike. And as they got older, getting hurt took a different form: a cruel thing said by another child, getting in trouble for doing something that they really didn’t understand was wrong. Being embarrassed. Hypocrisy becomes a common theme as they enter puberty. It is confusing and difficult for them to see people (especially adults) preach one thing and do another.
Just listening, and rejoicing or commiserating, builds a very strong bond of loving respect. So much transfer of values, of the way we view life, comes across in those short bedtime interchanges via our brief comments or words of empathy.
Taking liberty with a familiar poem . . .
You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be—
I had a mother who listened to me.”
Do you know what your child’s “funnest” or “baddest” thing was today?