"Time for bed, Benjamin."
He's only four, and already he's perfected the art of pouting about bedtime.
"Come on, honey, let's go brush your teeth."
Grudgingly, he follows me to the bathroom, his slow steps trying to postpone the inevitable end to the evening.
"Mommy, you do it?"
His subtle way of telling me that just because he has to go to bed now doesn't mean he willingly participates in this decision. I agree to brush his teeth for him, not to coddle him or hurry him along, but because I understand. He doesn't want to be disobedient, he just doesn't want to stop having fun yet.
Seeing him watching me with his mouth open as the brush goes back and forth, I slowly change my expression to a silly face.
My eyes cross.
Toothpaste slips out of his mouth and down his chin, causing us both to laugh even harder.
"Mommy!....Stop!" between giggles and snorts.
"Okay, okay." I smile at his smile.
And we laugh again.
Finished now, he silently holds his arms out to me. The request is clear. Without a word, I scoop him up and carry him up the stairs, arms and legs wrapped tight around me.
The solemness returns as we say our prayers, and he turns his back to me. The silence stretches out in the darkness until suddenly he turns towards me again. Arm reaching out to encircle my neck, he pulls close and asks, "Stay with me?"
I am flooded with the memory of our first evening together.
Reclining on my bed, surrounded by a sea of pillows, I held this precious babe in my arms as he drifted off to sleep. My prayer was answered. My son was here with me.
He pulls close and asks, "Stay with me?"
Gladly, my son. For as long as you want me.