Some nights, I wait for a pause and then cut him off mid-sentence. I interject something like, “I love you too, baby. Goodnight. I’ll see you when the sun comes up.”
But not tonight. Tonight, I listen attentively to each word as it rambles out his mouth. Much of it is mumbled. Anyone else wouldn’t have a clue what he is actually professing. But as I hear the rounded, high notes of baby speech stream from his mouth, it feels like the truest declaration of love that one can make. He is reciting poetry.
It starts as I walk over to give his brother one last goodnight kiss. “Mama! Mama! I need you, Mama!” Parker pleads from across the room.
“Just a second, baby.”
I walk back to his crib and he rolls over from his side to his back. His golden hair is unkept and resting on top of his eye brows. It desperately needs to be trimmed. His fingernails are fresh and clean as they clutch Bear. Suddenly, he looks like a giant in his crib. His long body nearly engulfs the length of the bed, and as I reach down and hold his bare foot, I realize it’s nearly as long as my own hand. I wonder when that happened. Babyhood starts to feel long ago and far away.
He flashes a cherub grin as he begins, “Mama, I wuv you aw da way to da chicken coop and back to da Y…and…I wuv you aw the way to da wibrary and back to our house…and back to da Y and to Germany and Itawy…and…and…back to da chicken coop and aw the way to da moon and back to da wibrary…and da grocery store…and I wuv you aw da way to the chicken coop and back to our house.” His words hold a hint of mischief. I know he’s stalling. Even at two-years-old, he understands the fine art of prolonging bedtime.
But I don’t mind tonight.
I don’t mind that it’s late.
I don’t mind that it’s far past his bedtime.
I don’t mind that I’m exhausted.
I don’t mind the toys covering every square inch of the floor.
I don’t mind the cracker crumbs on the sofa.
I don’t mind the endless “whys”.
I don’t mind the tears and tantrums.
I don’t mind it at all. Not one little bit, tonight.