Little Beej and I have a routine. We like it. As he finishes his lunch and we wash his grimy mitts and his grubby mug, we run through the list of what’s coming next. First, we will change his diaper, then read books. Next I’ll hand him the blanket that I made for him and he will lay it against his belly while I reach for his bottle of milk. “Bottle time!” he loves to call out as he wraps his hands around the bottle.
We listen to the same song (known to us as “the bottle song”) as he drinks but recently he likes to chatter around his bottle. I usually remind him that if he’s old enough to be conversing at Bottle Time, then maybe it’s time for Bottle Time to go away. (He’s just over 2.)
As the song comes to an end, we wrap up Bottle Time and I offer him his pacifier. One or both of us utters the transition word- “Trade.” And then it’s time for him to roll over onto this belly and we rock while we listen to two songs, known as our “Rocking with Nonna” songs. Sometimes he will talk softly while we rock and other times he passes out. I never know if he’s still awake or not until we reach his crib and I go to lay him down. If he’s awake,I remind him that it’s nap time and I cover him. Most days he lays down, with his little blanket under him and warmer blankets on top. Sounds too good to be true? It’s one of the perks of being Nonna.
This entire routine takes approximately a half hour. I’m not sure when it actually came to be, but it’s been special to us for at least a year now. I didn’t expect it to last too long past his first birthday. After all, rocking? What active toddler, especially one who has been walking since he was 9 months old, wants to rock? Well, my little guy still does but only for me. Both of his parents have admitted that rocking has been a thing of the past for months now. And because I know that this is something special with only me, I cherish it even more.
There is so much of what I do with my grandsons that I did with their dad when he was growing up. And it works.
But this naptime routine with little Beej? Nope. The only resemblance it bears to days gone by is my laying out what is going to happen next. It was a habit I began early in my parenting days, probably for myself more than anyone else, but it certainly helped my kids to know what to expect next. While Michael, my oldest, rolls with the punches easily, Andy, my baby, needed lots of warning and was always asking what we were doing today- meaning he wanted the full line up.
Back then I wasn’t rocking 2 year olds with bottles and then pacifiers. My kids didn’t have pacifiers. And they were off bottles long before they were 2. And I didn’t rock anyone to sleep. I think that it’s because of all of those things, that I don’t mind doing it with Beej. Also, I realize how quickly time passes and you never really know when that last “rocking and holding” session will be.
And so today as I handed Beej his bottle, I told him, “This might be the last time I give you one of these. Your bottle days are coming to an end.” He doesn’t understand and he was just grateful for the bottle and the continuity.
Little does he know that he’s in for so many changes in the coming weeks. And these are not small ones. His bottles and pacifier are going away. The potty chair is coming out. The high chair will be leaving soon, too, and he will be joining us in his booster seat at the table.
He is embracing his “twoness” for all it’s worth. While he tends to be an angel for me (of course), he’s thrown some glorious tantrums for Mommy and he even gives Daddy a run for his money from time to time. He is the busiest two year old in town.
I know that his parents are eager for him to grow up, just a little more. This age can be exhausting for parents. But I want him to stay this size forever. I know that in the blink of an eye he will be in school, reading, riding a bike, playing baseball and the drums. It’s all going to be here soon enough.
And until that time, I’m going to look forward to my favorite part of nap time- the smile that spreads across his face when he sees me after nap time when he gets up and I lift him out of his crib. He wraps his arms around my shoulders and lays his head down, after making sure his little blanket is smooth on his tummy. We walk downstairs and then I sit down, with him snuggled up in my arms and we rock while I talk to him softly, listing out what we are going to do next and savoring Cuddle Time.
This is the stuff that dreams are made of.