Apr 8, 2014

Smothered in Hugs

Over the years, I've developed a number of little games and rituals with each of my kids. They're not created with intention... they just sort of emerge over time based on our interactions and the meshing of our personalities. All dads must do it. It's part of our fatherly bonding experience and a way to show our kids that we share something special. Some of these routines only last through certain ages or phases of development. Some stick around longer. Some seem to go away and then pop up later when you least expect it. They're all important, though, and serve as little reminders of the unique relationship we fathers have with each of our children.

Eliana, my little two year old whose charisma cup runneth over, has several of these little rituals she shares with me. They are mostly madcap and always loving. And 100% unique to her. The one I love the most right now (and hopefully one that lasts) is our bedtime routine. After getting dressed for bed and brushing our teeth, we head downstairs while the remaining hooligans of the house prepare for bedtime under mom's supervision. We find a cozy blanket, turn off all of the lights and snuggle into the recliner to begin our nighttime wind down. Sometimes we read a book by the light coming in from the window. Sometimes we go straight to the music. Every time Eliana insists on picking the first song. And she ALWAYS picks "Book of Love" as sung by Peter Gabriel. It's an odd choice for her as any other time of day she prefers upbeat dance music. But without fail she scrolls through the music list on my phone and her tiny little finger taps her chosen song. As soon as the music starts, she lets me know that it's "Book-a-Love." And she reminds me again every time Mr. Gabriel sings those words throughout the rest of the song. Sometimes, without any specific prompting in the lyrics, she tells me "he's singing James and Eli." Needless to say, my heart promptly melts and I nestle her in even closer. (And this all but guarantees that one day, the first boy to break her heart will meet an untimely death at the hands of her hysterical father.)

Once her preferred song is over we listen for awhile to whatever music the random toggle serves.  Each time a song starts, Eliana immediately asks me "what's this song about?" I smile because she always responds the same way -- repeating whatever description I just gave her but prefaced with an "Ohhhhhhh." Like, "Ohhhhhhh, it's about two people in love." Or, "Ohhhhhh, it's about dancing all night." This goes on for several songs as she moves and adjusts to find the optimal arrangement for drifting off to sleep. Finally (and maybe my favorite part of our whole routine) her stirring subsides as she finishes fine tuning her position on my lap and she asks me to "put it back on Book-a-Love." She closes her eyes. Her little hand gives me a pat on the arm. Her breathing gets deep and slow in that way that only babies and puppies seem to master. And before the first verse is over, she's... out.

And usually before the second verse is over, I too am... out.


Anonymous said...

Ohhhhh, it's about a man who tells the truth about liking big butts.

James said...