I was putting my children to bed tonight. Part of the bedtime routine is that I tell them "Little Girl" and "Little Boy" stories. These are stories that I make up on the spot. Some are shorter and some are longer, depending on how I feel and how well the creative juices are flowing. Someday, I will write these stories down.
Tonight was one of those nights when I felt a shorter story was called for. I had just finished digging out the driveway; it was covered with about two feet of snow and I could no longer put it off. (The truth is, my wife wouldn't let me.) Anyway, it took me some time and energy to finish, and I could feel every muscle in my body begin to let me know how much they cared for what I did. Since my muscles are a very selfish lot, they resented having to work on someone else's behalf, and decided to pack it in for the night... (with my luck, they'll pack it in for the next week or two.)
My kids feel very disappointed when they get the 'small stories' - as my four year old likes to call them, and so I have learned not to warn them in advance. Tonight, as I finished what was most likely the shortest little girl and little boy story ever told, I had this thought hit me from out of nowhere. "What if I never got to tell them another little girl and little boy story? Is this the last one I want to ever tell them?"
Before you start wondering if I am being overly morbid, let me clarify. Yes, I could die. My muscles are sure hinting that this is the direction they want to take, but more realistically, these stories could go the route many other bedtime rituals of the past have taken. I used to sing to my children, and then that turned into playing the recorder for them - and yes, I do play the recorder... rather well, I think. The recorder was followed by 'phone songs', which are basically mp3s that I have stored on my phone, mostly for the benefit of my children. After phone songs, it became 'you tube', believe it or not, and then it became a muddle of all of the above. Then one night, while my daughter and I were waiting for my son to finish brushing his teeth, I told her a "Little Girl" story, and they have been going strong since then and show no sign of stopping.
The truth is that I look forward to them. I never know what adventures we will be in for until they actually unfold. I don't plan ahead, and even if my kids have favourites, I often work something new into the ones they want to hear again. The stories are also great carrots hanging from the proverbial stick, and they will often have to be told to slow down the brushing because they figure the quicker they are, the longer the story will be. (Don't ever question the ingenuity of children. It often outshines that of adults.)
Back to my thought... I hope and pray that these stories will continue for quite some time. They connect my wife and I to our children, and they make me feel, if only for a short time, like a little boy again.