Every night I tuck Zach into bed. He is 13, an age when I had stopped tucking his brothers into bed. Just before bed I brush my teeth, he brushes his right next to me. The whole time watching what I do, how the brush moves mimicking every move, using me as a timer. When I am done he is done, often hip checking me playfully in a fight for placement at the sink.
Every night it is almost as if every night is the 1st time, like we have not been doing this for many years. Since he is minimally verbal, he can’t tell me why (yet) he watches and mimics so closely. We stick to our routine, melatonin an hour before bedtime, cleanup 10 minutes prior to bedtime. Then, plug in the iPad, get his noise dampening headphones, brush teeth and change.
When we deviate he doesn’t sleep as well, maybe he feels like he is missing something, I know when I feel like I am missing something it is hard to sleep. I think we all do, well most nights.
Each night I tuck him in and say the same things, make the same motions. Then I turn off the light, close the door and I wonder what will happen when I can’t be there to tuck him in anymore. Who will brush their teeth with him, who will help him remember to change his clothes, who will say good night and make sure he has all the things he needs to sleep. I know I can’t always be here for him. Frankly this scares the crap out of me. I WANT more than anything to be there. I know in a logical sense I can’t be, that I will grow old and I will die.
Then who will say goodnight?
Some days are easier than others. Some days I think he will never grow up, others, like today, he proves me wrong. Today he wanted something, so he sent me a Skype message from the family room. He has sent me links before when he wanted me to buy something or print things for him. Today, he sent me “MOM!!” because he wanted me to start the Minecraft server for him.
Then, he wanted an expansion for one of his iPad games, so he brought it to me showed me and I reminded him he had not earned his allowance this week (he makes his bed and does a few other small chores). So he went around the house cleaning! He gathered dishes, put away trash, swept the living room and made his bed. All on his own. Maybe, there is hope that someday he won’t need someone to show him how to brush his teeth, or tuck him in. Maybe one day he will do it himself. In his own time.
Then he will say goodnight on his way to bed without any help. Hopefully.