Up until recently, Dominic had been sleeping with the light on in his room. (Yes, I know — horrible habit, but his light is on a dimmer and we always had it all the way down… Hey –it kept him in bed all night long; it was worth it.) But I recently became convinced that it was finally interfering with his sleep quality, and it was time to turn it off. He fought it less than I expected, but in my efforts to help him transition, I have unwittingly created a new ritual that must be followed EXACTLY. This is now how he goes to bed**:
a) After prayers, saying goodnight to Daddy and Aunt Margaret, and reading his *two* copies of an ABC book (naturally), I turn off his overhead light.
b) We go around the room and point out all the other little lights that stay on all night “to keep him company”. Between the the red light from his video monitor, the blinking yellow and green and blue lights from the internet router, and the “change filter” light on his air purifier, there’s a lot of pretty lights in there.
c) He sits on my lap, and demands that I tell him about the “cats and dogs and Gran and Grandpa. Mama, say.” So I begin: “Every night, the little dogs and their puppies curl up in their nice warm dens and fall asleep in the dark. And the cats and the kittens…” and on it goes through eight or so different species, all falling asleep happily in the dark. Then comes the litany of family members who are also dark-sleepers: Gran and Grandpa first, then all of his cousins, who each put on their pajamas and say their prayers and get kisses from their mamas and fall asleep in the dark.
d) Then I tell him about his guardian angel who is right there in the room with him, to keep him company and watch over him. At this point, Dominic sits bolt upright on my lap (seriously, every night, he does this), looks around the room, and with his palms turned up in a “where in the world?!” gesture, demands “‘eh go?” [“Where did he go?”] When I explain that he can’t see his angel but he’s still there, Dominic nods contentedly and leans back against me. Because, you know — that makes sense.
e) Then and ONLY then, may I sing him his lullaby and put him to bed. (But the light! It stays off!)
** – I should clarify: this is the new upstairs bedtime ritual. Bedtime really begins with the downstairs ritual of pajamas and tooth-brushing and saying the rosary and kissing the icon of Mary that Aunt Amy gave us, and blowing out BOTH candles (because we can’t use only one, according to Dominic, even though the fact that we now have one candle on either end of the bookcase has led him to believe that we are *actually* praying to Mama’s mantle clock in the middle.)
Compare this with Mimi’s bedtime ritual:
Pajamas and lotion for her drool rash downstairs, then a bottle on Mommy’s lap in the rocking chair in the dark of her room. Rock and rock with her head on my shoulder while I sing a lullaby, until Mimi picks her head up and points a chubby finger sternly towards her crib. Then I pick her up, say a quick goodnight blessing, give her a kiss, and put her in her bed. Walk out. The end.