Bedtime Conversations

by Kelly Bartlett on May 25, 2010

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Elia went to a 4-year-old friend’s princess-themed birthday party yesterday.  As you can imagine, it was very exciting.  The girls were to arrive dressed up in their best princess dress, and at the party would get their hair & make up done, craft fairy wands, make jewelry and have a tea party.  Elia was dressed and ready 5 hours before the party.

It was a day of friends, activities, sugar, and plenty of stimulation.  That night, as I turned out the light after reading a chapter of The Sisters Grimm: Fairy Tale Detectives, and she flopped exhausted onto her pillows, she commented to herself, “Boy, are my eyes tired.”  For her to say that meant that her eyes were REALLY tired.

Now those are tired eyes.  We always cuddle at night and take the chance to talk about anything that might be on her mind.  Last night, there were a few things on her mind…

Elia: “Mom? I really like talking to Will & Zoe because they can talk well and they are easy to understand.  Some kids are hard to understand, like Aasha, I have a hard time talking to her because she doesn’t talk very well and I can’t understand her sometimes.  Even Will is hard to understand but mostly I can.”

Me: “Yeah, as kids grow, they learn to talk better and better.”

Elia: “Yeah, I can understand Hannah and Haley really well because they’re a lot older than me, so they’ve already learned to talk.  They’re big kids, and when you’re a big kid you already know how to talk well.  Mom? If Flash and Superman were at our house, at this house, at our house that we live in now, and they raced to Sophia Park, who would win?”

Me: “I don’t know.  Who do you think would win?”

Elia: “I think Flash because Dad said that Flash could get from our old house to our new house in 4 seconds.  I had a few things that were my favorite things today.  First, I really liked playing with Hannah and Will when they came over to  play with Brownie [our guinea pig]. And I liked playing Cadoo with you. And I really liked the chocolate cake we had for Dad’s birthday.  But what I didn’t like was when I was trying to get that flower to stick to the end of the stick and it wouldn’t stay on.”

Me: “Yeah, that was frustrating, you were trying really hard and it wasn’t working out.”

Elia: “Yeah, and I also didn’t like having to go close all the doors.”

Me: “Yeah, it’s hard when you’re in the middle of doing something and you have to stop to go close all the doors.  That’s not what you wanted to do.”

Elia: “No. I wish we could just leave all the doors open so we could just walk right through them all the time and I wouldn’t have to close them later.”

Me: “The only reason we ask you to close the doors after you come in or go out is because we don’t like flies coming in here.  They’re annoying. I don’t like them buzzing around my head and around my food.”

Elia: “Maybe we could just hang fly traps in front of all the doors so they could get stuck.”

Me: “Yeah?”

Elia: “Or maybe we could just hang a sheet in front of the doors so we could go right through and air could go through, but flies couldn’t.”

Me: “Yeah, or maybe close the screen door?”

Elia: “Yeah.”

At this point her covers are thrown off, her legs are waving around up in the air, and she is tossing her blanket up & down over her face.  It’s a long way from those tired eyes of five minutes ago.  But she is sharing so much!  She is telling me about who she is, what she thinks of the world, and how she thinks of the world.  And I am trying to take this opportunity to show her that I listen.  Without judging. Without providing The Answers.  I appreciate this moment for what it is…despite the increasingly late hour, I am (hopefully) encouraging my daughter to tell me who she is and paving the way for it to continue.

But the hour is getting later and later, so eventually I have to say, “OK.  Now it is time to put your legs down, [check] roll over [check, check], get comfortable [done], and relax [eyes closed].  I’ll lay with you for one more minute, but it has to be quiet and no more talking.”

We are laying nose-to-nose.  Everything is quiet for four seconds.  Eyes pop open.  “Can I just tell you one more thing?”

Yes!  Of course!  Please always tell me just one more thing!  Keep talking to me and never stop.  I want to know who you are, and I want it to be you who tells me, not me who decides for you who you should be.  So tell me everything!  I will always listen, and I will always love you for who you are.

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Kelly Bartlett (36 Posts)

Kelly Bartlett is the author of "Encouraging Words For Kids" and "Help! My Child is Addicted to Screens (Yikes! So Am I.)" She is an API leader and Certified Positive Discipline Educator in Portland Oregon.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Lydia May 25, 2010 at 10:09 am

This is so sweet. I have actually noticed this in my 19 month old who is just starting to form sentences. While nursing to sleep, she will all of the sudden pop up and say a few words associated with something from our day. Thanks for sharing.


Melodie May 26, 2010 at 9:13 am

What a beautiful post! I need to start getting my 5 year old to bed just a little earlier so we have time for things like this. Thanks for reminding me to take the time. 🙂


Kelly May 26, 2010 at 9:34 am

Thank you for the comments! That was an enjoyable parenting moment for me, and I’m glad you appreciated the story! 🙂


chris white May 30, 2010 at 9:29 pm

so sweet………..there is nothing like those intimate moments in bed. feeling safe, the defenses are down, and we can just be in the flow of who we are. one of the sweetest parts of family life.
thank you.


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