Putting Pax to sleep, I hold him in my lap as we rocked and prayed, then I lift him up and set him into his bed. It’s the same routine every night. I ask him a series of questions about what pillow he wants, what blankets he will use, and what toy from his train table he wants next to him. Then I tell him “I love you” and he answers back with a ‘Night night Daddy” as I slip quietly out his door. I try to close it gently behind me, but this was one of those home improvement projects I never got back around to, so it doesn’t shut all the way and lets in a sliver of light and some sound.
I literally take one step to my right and enter Ella’s room only to find her lying on the floor in her “groundhog hole” This is nothing more than blankets on the floor next to her bed and her comforter hanging down from the mattress above. She promptly pauses the TV that is only just passed the opening credits. She is allowed to turn it on while I read to Pax. I bend down and turn it off to mild protests and take it out of her room for the night. If I leave it in, she will be sure to climb down and turn it back on, this I know from past experience. I lay down on the floor, my head on her pillow but my feet facing the opposite wall, and I look into her eyes as we talk about her day. I love these late night (8:00 PM) conversations with my daughter where I get to hear about school and how she treated her brother and what Mommy did with them that day. Sometimes, like last night, I get to use these times to talk to her about Jesus and the reason we celebrate Christmas and it makes me well up with tears inside (O.K. sometimes I’m a girl) at how precious these moments are and that I hope we will have them for the rest of her life. We pray, she requested I pray for her school and ballet and Miss N. and Mrs. G and all of her friends. Then I reach over to give her a kiss goodnight. “Four!” she says, “on my cheek!” “Four…or fourteen?” I ask, but playfully give her four kisses on her cheek before she turns her face and says, “Fourteen!” I count out each kiss, “Slower!” she demands. “Was that fourteen?” Yes it was. Now it’s time to go to sleep.
I tell her I love her and then take out her hearing aids. I go to her Hello Kitty CD player and turn up the volume just a little. She’s listening to the same song on eternal repeat. “I can’t hear it,” she says. I turn it up a little bit more and set it on the floor so the acoustics will travel under her bed and reach her in her groundhog hole. At the door, I turn one last time to sign my love to her, then close the door behind me.
Ten minutes later, Ella screamed at the top of her lungs. Scared of what, I’ll never know… some sound she says. But this is after she thought for quite some time about what it is that actually scared her. Now I lay my head down next to her again and she wraps her hands around my neck, “You’re stuck!” Time goes by, she knows that I’m thinking about telling her to close her eyes and she starts trying to keep them shut of her own initiative by holding her eyelids down with her fingers. “I’m having a hard time. Closing my eyes.” I didn’t even say anything but she was afraid that if she stayed awake for too long I’d get up and go downstairs. Eventually, I’m able to squirm out from under her arms, but she cries about being scared so I relocate her to her bed and cover her with all kinds of blankets and put her CD player back on the shelf. It’s still cycling through the same song over and over again. She lets out a sigh of contentment and then pretends to go to sleep.
Once downstairs I’m startled to my feet when I hear her music at full blast, at the loudest crescendo of the song! Again I burst into her room to find her laughing her heart out about turning up her music so loud. After compromising on the volume I open her door and could see Pax in his bed through the crack. That’s when it hits me and I just had to laugh. God gave me two kids who were perfect for each other. Ella with her loud blaring music and Pax who kindly sleeps through it all!