Here’s the song reference.
Every night since Bugaboo was born, we have had the same bedtime ritual with our children — stories, then evening prayers, then lullabies. For the last five-and-one-half years, their days have ended with “Irish Lullaby,” then a little song we made up to the tune of “O Tannenbaum,” then two verses of “Taps.”
For the past several months, lullaby time has evolved into less of an opportunity for all of us to snuggle up and wind down together and more of a free-for-all. This may have something to do with the boys’ bedtime being an hour earlier than the girls’, so it’s possible that Bugaboo and Beanie just aren’t quite ready for that moment of peace at 7:30. Nonetheless, the lesson of respectful listening is forgotten after prayers have been prayed, and when the girls start bouncing around merrily after prayers, the boys follow their lead, no matter how many imprecations for calm are issued. This is highly counterproductive to the cause of getting the boys to go to bed calmly.
This has become a big point of frustration for Manie and I, but last night, as I was trying to sing the second song over a hullabaloo, I simply stopped. None of them noticed, and none of them asked for the rest of their songs. It’s entirely possible that they’ve reached a point where the lullabies are more important to the parents than to our children, I thought. After Manie and I exchanged sad and wistful glances, he announced that the boys’ bedtime had come, and that it was time for hugs, kisses, and the ouster of all those who sleep not there. He also mentioned that since nobody was listening to or singing along with songs anymore, I probably wouldn’t sing them anymore, and perhaps we could have an extra story or some extra prayers instead.
To our tremendous surprise, Bugaboo completely lost it.
When I say, “completely lost it,” I do not mean she shed a couple of tears and whined a little. I mean her face became a stunning shade of scarlet and she emitted a Vader-worthy bellow of, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” She cried until she was hyperventilating, and every now and again choked out a word to eventually form the sentence, “You . . . can’t . . . stop . . . songs . . . we . . . always . . . have . . . songs . . . and . . . I . . . still . . . want . . . songs!”
After we had calmed her down, Manie said simply, “Okay, I understand. But I have a question for you. What song was Mommy singing when she stopped?”
“Bugaboo, we love you. We don’t want you to be sad. But Mommy sings to you and with you all day. If nobody’s going to listen when Mommy sings you guys off to bed at night, it makes her sad, and we don’t want Mommy to be sad either. Plus, with you and Beanie jumping all over the room, it gets Mr. Man and Baby Guy all worked up and then they can’t get to sleep. It’s not fair to anybody.”
I added, “And it’s okay if you’ve all outgrown songs at night. It’s something I do for you, not to you, and if it’s not something you all enjoy anymore, if it’s not something that helps you relax and get ready for bed, then it’s time for it to end and for us to find something else to do that will help everybody unwind.”
Manie continued, “This is supposed to be quiet family time, not everybody jumping around the room time.”
Meanwhile, Beanie, Mr. Man, and Baby Guy were quietly but intently observing the conversation.
I offered, “I’ll tell you what. Maybe tonight is just a rough night because we’ve had such a busy day and ran so many errands. We’ll try again tomorrow, okay, when maybe we can all remember how quiet time is supposed to look. Okay?”
“But I WANT MY SONGS NOW!”
“No, Bugaboo. Not tonight. I tried to sing them to you for fifteen minutes, and the songs only take about four minutes total to sing. My voice is tired now, and so is the rest of me. We’ll try again tomorrow.”
And that was the end of that. We hugged and kissed the boys and tucked them in with only minor protestations and no stuffed-animal-missile hurling. Nothing else was said about the lullabies that night, even when we tucked in the girls about an hour later.
Honestly, I hope Bugaboo and Beanie, whose eyes were suspiciously bright during the exchange in her brothers’ room, really do still want the lullabies. I’m not ready to stop singing them yet — and I don’t think I ever really will be.
Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for the gift of music, and for strong voices we can raise in song. Thank You for the years of peaceful moments we have had with Your little blessings sharing songs at the end of the day. Please help me gently teach them that if we fail to recognize the beauty in the gift of music, or in any other thing, we will miss it when we can no longer enjoy it. Kindle in me a spirit that will allow me to instruct Your blessings in the importance of quiet listening, and will quiet my own lips by way of example to them. My gifts to them can never equal Yours, Lord, but please help me teach Your blessings to accept what they are given with grateful hearts, and teach me to be at peace when what I have tried to share is not what they need.