It must be the change in seasons, but I am going to bed earlier and earlier. Ben is loving it, because basically we both get into our jammies about the same time, and by the time we start reading books before bed, we are both comfy.
Last night, after a leisurely dinner of sushi rice and potstickers and fresh corn on the cob, we wandered toward bedtime by “playing trains.” The twin goals of this game are to engage Mom in races around the track and to create the longest possible train without it falling off the track at every turn. When Ben invited me to come in and play, I was still cleaning up the kitchen, so I put him off. When I did walk into his room, he said, in his most inviting voice, “You want to play trains, Momma?” clasping his hands in front of him, bending down at the waist, raising his eyebrows and smiling toward me. How could I resist?
I paused a moment to enjoy his invitation. He jumped into the smiling pause with, “Look, your train is all ready for you!” He pointed to a train headed by Thomas the Tank engine, followed by the Chinese dragon car (my favorite, actually) a Troublesome Truck, Big City Engine and his tender. How could I resist.
Ben’s train was pulled by Murdoch, and had about ten cars hooked on, followed by Douglas and Donald, the Scottish twins. When I suggested hooking battery-powered Percy to the front of my train, so that I could just watch him and soak in the moments around the train table, he demurred. This session of trains was to be strictly manual power, no cheating here.
Round and round we went, creating crashes (where “luckily no one was hurt!”), rearranging the track to make a bridge here, a tunnel there. We occupied the better part of an hour. I suggested it might be jammie time, an idea resisted to the bone by Engineer Ben. I parked my train on a siding, and Ben continued playing while I got ready for bed. When I came back into his room, he was naked from the waist down, still running the train around, but at least working toward jammie time.
I bargained with him: if he got ready for bed we could play some more and then read. Washed up, brushed of tooth and combed of hair, his flannel Thomas jammies properly in place, we had a few more rounds, then adjourned (not without tearful resistance) to bed where we began reading Polar Express, then moved to The Little Engine That Could, then to the latest Toys R Us circular from Sunday’s paper to look at the train layouts on pages 12 and 13. Finally, he made the request to get under the covers.
I turned out the lights and turned on his moon, and settled in for a short time of back rubbing (his) and fighting to stay awake (mine.) “Where’s my Gordon?” the question roused me, and I mumbled that I thought it was in his backpack. From his bed he sprang and like a courser he flew to the doorknob, where his back pack hung. Back to bed with Gordon.
“I want Donald and Douglas,” came the next request, and up again to fetch them from the end of his very long train. Just when I thought I was set and he might be drifting off he said,
“Gracious, where’s my Murdoch!”
Gracious? Where did he learn that one?
“Honey, you don’t have room for anymore trains, do you?” I asked, apparently rhetorically, because he was already up and after Murdoch and, of course, his tender. Now there was certainly no more room for Mommy, so I got up from my reverie, tucked him in, and did our last ritual.
From the doorway I called, “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.”
He called, “See you in the morning bright.”
Parenting isn’t for everyone, but as for me I can say I am glad and grateful.