Tuck In Time:
Who's Being Spoiled?
I should be ashamed to show the disarray around us but instead I’m proud of how many books we go through during a visit. Reading is the last activity before bed and the first thing he asks for in the morning!
The bath has been taken, the teeth brushed and the pajamas are on. Callister is here for his monthly sleepover, a tradition we’ve all come to love in the last two years. Now it’s time for reading, a most wonderful way to spend time with a sleepy child. We read four or five books always ending with “Goodnight Moon,” which he knows by heart, taking delight in pointing out the two young kittens and the cow jumping over the moon.
My favorite part of the tuck in ritual begins after the last book is read. I hold that big, two-year-old in my arms like a baby, his legs sticking out past the arms of the rocking chair, and I rock him back and forth as I sing “You are my Sunshine” over and over. He snuggles into me and I feel his body giving up the fight, the exhaustion from a busy day of activities finally winning out over the desire to play just a few more minutes. The lights are dimmed, the white noise machine is on, and in this moment nothing in the world exists for me but staring into my grandson’s eyes as his lids slowly close, open again briefly, and then close again as he succumbs to dreamland. I hold him and rock him longer than necessary, telling myself I want to make sure he’s really asleep, all the while knowing the truth: I want to hang on to these feelings as long as I can. My chances to rock this child to sleep are slipping away rapidly. He’ll soon think he’s too old, or there will be another grandchild demanding equal opportunity.
I loved tuck in time when my kids were young, but it was always shadowed by the dread of knowing there were dishes waiting in the sink, laundry to be done, and lunches to be packed before I could allow myself to collapse. I tried to give each of my children undivided time at tuck in. No matter what else happened during the chaotic day, I wanted each child to count on having fifteen minutes of one-on-one time each night when we could read, talk, sing, and pray together. I succeeded 90% of the time but as a single mom, it was often a time and energy push to get it done.
As a grandmother, my responsibilities are fewer, my time more plentiful, and my perspective different. I know the dishes can wait, the laundry basket is much emptier these days, and no one but a couple of cats are depending on me to provide food. I understand the precious nature of time and I spend it wisely. I understand, because it feels like a month ago I was rocking my own baby to sleep. Those thirty years passed like a speeding train, and they aren’t coming back. As we age, we realize time is the most precious commodity. Money is nice, but it can’t buy the priceless experience of rocking your grandchild to sleep. Those moments are like jewels to be stored in the mind, precious treasures in our cerebral bank, memories which can be withdrawn and enjoyed over and over through the years.
If you’re ever in fear of spoiling your grandchild by holding them too much, rocking them too long, or rhapsodizing over their every breath, put that fear away. It is this kind of spoiling for which grandparents were created. It’s part of the magical relationship between the old and the young; the pure, undiluted love that can only be experienced when we spend time with our children’s children. Time is fleeting, so we must endeavor to embed little nuggets of love into our grandchildren’s hearts. You can spoil a child with too many sweets or too many toys but never with too much love. Go ahead, spoil yourself and rock the child.