Thursday, September 20, 2018

"Will You Lay With Me?"

Almost without fail, as Elise and I are putting the kids to bed, saying goodnight, tucking them in, and kissing them to sleep, one of them will ask us, "Will you lay with me?"

I am ashamed to admit, the first time one of them asked me this question my first thought was, "Why?"

A parent laying with their child was a concept that was completely foreign to me. I had done it with Sam and Clementine (Peter never needed it, though he is one of the quickest now to ask me if I will lay with him) when they were babies to help them falls asleep, but they didn't need help falling asleep now.  They were big kids with long days, school, math, recess, after-school activities, sometimes swimming, and tennis and soccer practice. Surely, they didn't need their father to help them go to sleep. They had to be exhausted. I know I was.

Elise asked me if my mom or dad ever laid with me when I was a kid. I thought about it for amount, then shook my head.

"No," I told her. "I don't think so."

Evidently, Elise's mom used to lay with her when she went to sleep, and Elise remembers that being the time when she downloaded her day, when everything came spilling out, in the dark, in whispers. She tells me she has the same experience now with Sam, though the role are reversed.  Sam is now the one downloading to her.

As a single mother, I believe it was probably everything my mom could do just to get three boys into bed. Doubtlessly, she, too, was exhausted.  Perhaps, ready to do something, one thing, anything, for herself, or just go to bed.

I don't lay with them every night. Many times I do I end up falling asleep, and Elise has to come get me and tell me to turn the bathroom light out. Elise reminds me they won't always want to lay with me. So, as tired as I am some nights, when they ask me to lay with them, I pause before answering. "Just for a minute," before tucking in next to them. I notice they return many of the same comforting gestures I've used on them with me. Peter puts his arm around my chest. Clementine interlaces her fingers with mine.  Sam strokes my hair.

The day they don't want me to lay with them anymore is probably sooner than I would like. 

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