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It begins

Bedtime for the younger set is between eight and nine o'clock in our house. Some day it will come earlier, but that will be after both Calvin and I are willing to give up his daily three hour afternoon nap. For right now we begin our ritual as the clock approaches eight, and finish, some time later, with three books, a final potty trip, then songs and stories in bed, at which point the last parent in the room (usually Jon) tucks in a hopefully sleepy little boy and heads downstairs. We've already dealt with that phase of perpetual recoiling from the land of nod, when every five minutes one or the other of us is called upon to "open a door," "turn on the white noise machine," "close the door," "find another blanket," and all other such manners of delay. For the most part these dilly-dallyings have subsided.

Imagine, then, my surprise two nights ago at walking up the stairs, heading for my own dream realm at near midnight, only to spy a thin line of light escaping from under that little boy's door. Inside his room our son lay fast asleep, sprawled across the bed surrounded by upwards of twenty books, having turned on his little dresser light by which to enjoy them. I vaguely remember nights spent reading by flashlight well into the hours of morning, and, ignoring niggling worries about his sleeping patterns and crankiness the next day, this was a sight I fell in love with. I collected the books, tucked in the boy, and turned out the light.

The next day, sitting on the front porch eating lunch, a hint of peanut butter all around his adorable little mouth, I asked him about his late night reading. With a very, very sad face he exclaimed that he just wanted to read in bed. How does one say no to that? I was in danger of subverting my parental control, so I offered that if he wished to read in bed we could skip play time and go to bed earlier so that he could do so. "Can we do that tonight?" he asked. Absolutely. And when we did, you'd think he'd died and gone to heaven.

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