Many families have "bedtime routines" and while they continue for years, they naturally change as the kids age.
When I was a kid, probably in third or fourth grade, the routine changed to one of teethbrushing followed by a goodnight kiss from the folks and then off to bed. Mom might enter to give me a kiss, but it was brief and there were no longer any prayers. Dad was always downstairs ensconced in the favorite chair and almost never participated in the ritual.
This kind of change has also taken root here as the kids grow and are less willing to have the usual routine. Or are they? I'm finding that even the eldest - a high-schooler - still wants me to join her for a short cuddle before going to sleep. The biggest change is that they wish to do a silent prayer instead of spoken, but the cuddling and quiet conversation is what they still want. If I miss more than two nights of that, then one of them asks for some time before they nod off to sleep. I admit that it might appear a little odd for a middle-aged man to curl up with a teen-age girl and I have found the concept disquieting as she's aged. But I've balanced that by lying on top of the bedcovers while she's curled up beneath. I believe that a father can and should be able to be affectionate with his daughter without having to worry about questions of impropriety. Likewise with the sons.
These private moments continue to be important even as they age. It's a chance to share daily events and affections, or just talk about life for a few moments. So I'll continue to miss the evening television programs and follow-through on the bedtime routines as long as they last.
And I'll throw that missed season finale on the list of shows to rent on DVD.
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