A Bedtime Ritual

Whenever I put her to bed, Betty and I follow pretty much the same routine.

First, she has a bath. Then, she brushes her teeth. She finds Jennifer and tells her goodnight. Finally we read three books.

Lately, Betty has been insisting to read at least one of her books herself. This consists of her turning the pages, running her finger along the words, and saying, “Hmmm,” to herself and nodding. It’s incredibly cute, so she’s gotten away with it for the past couple of nights. Plus, it’s always been her “Lift-a-Flap” Elmo book, which I have a hard time making it through anyway. Usually by Betty’s bedtime I’m incredibly sleepy. I usually go with an easy book she can read along with me and a slightly more challenging one to finish it off.

Then comes the part that I love. I turn off the light and Betty will stop me before I leave. It usually goes something like this:

Betty: Dad…um…wait!
Me: What is it?
Betty: Um…you gotta go in the picture and see the squirrel.
Me: What am I going to do when I see the squirrel?
Betty: You’re going to touch his hand and give him a lollipop.
Me: Okay, I’ll go into the picture, see the squirrel, touch his hand, and give him a lollipop. Goodnight!
Betty: Um…dad…wait!
Me: What is it Betty?
Betty: You gotta climb the tree and tickle the elephant with a horse.
Me: Okay, I’ll climb the tree and tickle the elephant with the horse. Night night!
Betty: No! Wait!
Me: I love you, goodnight!
Betty: (muffled by the closing door) Wait!
(a few moments of silence)
Betty: Hello, Elephant!

Some of my friends stay with their children until they fall asleep. I’ve pretty much learned that if I tried that, I fall asleep before she does. Then I’d never get out of there.

And yes, when I leave I imagine doing all of the things I’ve promised to do. It’s only fair.

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About paulgude

Paul Gude writes small books, makes stupid music, draws silly pictures, and does weird things on stage.
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4 Responses to A Bedtime Ritual

  1. Kevin says:

    Hey Paul, Precious stuff and once again kind of spooky.

    I don’t know exactly how many meaningful encounters I’ve had with squirrels over the years, but I’m sure it’s safe to say the number has been few.

    Yesterday, a young squirrel came over to me and as I squatted down he just climbed into my lap. While this was obviously uncharacteristic behavior, it seemed somehow very normal. I walked around with him for a while and then set him on the ground. He took several quick, erratic squirrel steps and then turned around and climbed up my leg and back into my hands. After a while I reluctantly waked him over to some trees and put him down again. This time he just walked off into the bushes.

    I have always believed that animal contact has some significance if we take the time to look for it. Maybe he was leading me to thoughts of Betty, which are always great.

    Anyway, no elephants or horses,… yet.

  2. paulgude says:

    She now says “Cheshire Cat” sometimes too, because I explained that this was the name of the thing in the tree of her Alice in Wonderland poster.

    The elephant apparently sometimes visits her in her dreams and “squashes” her, so look out for that one!

    I’m hoping that tickling distracts the elephant from its squashing agenda.

  3. Lex Vader says:

    What about the giraffe? Is he just chopped liver? Sure, everybody knows about the elephant, but there’s a giraffe in the room, people! There’s a giraffe in the room and you know it!

  4. paulgude says:

    The giraffe stays on the book and doesn’t squash anyone!

    Oh, and Kevin, sorry I glossed over your squirrel story. That was completely amazing.

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