Sometimes on a hot summer night, or a chilly evening or perhaps when he has had a nap, or played too hard, Alex has a little trouble going to bed. I can never really pin point what will trigger it,or when it will happen, but it usually starts with three trips to the potty, a need for water, and finally a request for snuggles. Yes, this little child of mine who is in the middle has no choice but to seek me out in the late of night.
When this started a few months ago I thought it was a matter of schedule and required more discipline…on both our parts. I would try and follow the routine without fail, I would demand that he stay in his bed and go to sleep. We both were frustrated, and tears were shed. That I am not proud of but I thought I was doing what I was supposed to. Thankfully Alex made it through that time and I now see that is not what he needed at all. What he needed was me.
“Oh, but I’m so tired” my mind used to wine. After all I had just gotten the baby to sleep and wrestled the two boys through showers and teeth brushing and bedtime stories, and finding just the right toys to sleep with and prayers and last minute wonderings…
Surely now I should be free.
Yet, here he stands with bright eyes and dimples deep. Looking at me with hope that I will accept his invitation and fear that I won’t.
So, began our special time. Not every night but when needed he is welcome. It is our time.
“Come here.” I say with a smile. Gleefully he scales my lap, all knees and elbows, digging and pinching. But then he settles into the crook of my arm and we both take a deep breath.
After a moment he begins to wiggle again. I set him down and go find the animal memory game he borrowed from Grandma. We set down on the floor to play and I see how happy he is to be here. No big brother to crowd (though he loves him so and will want him to play tomorrow.) No little sister to climb on us or walk on the cards (though tomorrow he will hand them to her one by one and devise a new game to play.)
Tonight in the shine of his eyes I see that this is what his soul needed, a moment of quiet time with me. Now he is the only one.
It is precious time for me too. I let go of the thought of bed and rest and am instead filled with life and love for this child of mine who is far too often asked to wait, or go play as the older and younger are tended.
I have prayed often, “Lord, show me how to love Alex more. How to make up for the time I cannot spend in the day because little sister needs nursing and older brother needs teaching and time.”
Now I realize this is how. This is the time. Time for just Alex.
Our game is not long and we play again. The clock is nearing 10:30 p.m. I see him yawn and try not to. We clean up and head to his bed. He asks for a snuggle, I lean in to a gentle kiss and a hug.
Now it is I that does not want our time to end. I settle on my knees next to his bed. With heavy eyes I relay the story of Prince Alex the kind gentle hero. As the story ends I say, “Good night Prince Alex.”
“Call me just Alex.” he says
I say goodnight and see in his eyes a heart full. I know it is late. He will need to sleep-in or take a nap tomorrow. I will be tired as well. The routine will be off.
But it was worth it.
Yes it was what we both needed, time with just Alex.