As I've blogged before, reading is very important to me. So it's shouldn't be surprising to anyone that reading is a big part of Michael's bedtime routine. It's something that both of us look forward to every night, and we haven't skipped a night since before he was a year old.
While bedtimes stories are an important part of the routine, the goal is not to get through a certain number of books each night. It's a time for Michael and I to cuddle and share some quiet time together. Sometimes we read simple board books like Good Night Gorilla and Guess How Much I Love You. Michael just curls up and listens and I recite the simple words and help lull him to sleep. Other times we pull out the Smithsonian books, which are a bit over his head, and he asked questions like, "Did I grow out of your belly mommy?" We end up discussing more than we read. Still other times, Michael plays with his dinosaurs while I read as background noise.
I love all of these different scenarios. I love that reading before bedtime can be so many different things depending on our moods and desires.
There is one thing that I would prefer bedtime stories not be, an excuse for stalling.
Last week Michael pulled out a book we haven't read in over a year. I have a number of books that are basically illustrated books of a song, like The Ittsy Bittsy Spider and Frosty the Snowman. I really do have such a difficult time remembering song lyrics that using the books allows me to sing more than just Silent Night to him. He pulled out my copy of Hush Little Baby and asked me to sing/read it to him.
The first time through, he listened quietly. Then he asked for it again. And again. And yet again. Night after night. He would grab the pages and turn back to ask me questions about the looking glass getting broken or the diamond ring turning brass. Then, he'd pull out his dinosaurs and play with them instead of listening to me answer. I don't mind the question part, but I do mind the not listening to the answers part. Oh, and the repetition. He would have me do it over and over again.
He also insisted that I sing it, not read it. At one point I tried, and he got very upset with me. Another time I tried to get away with turning the light off and singing it in hopes that I could transition him to the next part of the routine. He wasn't having any of that either.
I'll be honest, I was getting annoyed. This was really starting to feel like a major stalling tactic, as opposed to him just enjoying the book. I was considering hiding the book so I wouldn't have to go through the wiggling, questioning, singing, ignoring process anymore.
The other night he asked for the book again. I opened to the first page, and before I could say anything, Michael started to sing Hush Little Baby. I sat quietly as he worked his way through the entire song while turn the pages for cues. He put in a few extra diamonds (like the diamond goat instead of billy goat) but for the most part nailed the song.
And I melted on the spot. All that fidgeting and questioning was worth hearing his sweet little voice sing such a sweet song to me.