Surprised by Joy: Toddler Edition

Neve, after she recently squished a Smurf. (Or colored her hands in "washable" blue marker. One of those.)

Neve, after squishing a Smurf with her bare hands. Or applying “washable” blue marker to her palms. One of those.

Part of the bedtime ritual around here consists of me carrying Neve – after she’s been changed into her jammies and had her teeth brushed – upstairs to her room while chanting “Books with Mommy, books with mommy” repeatedly, climbing one step for each syllable. It’s catchy.

So catchy that Neve usually sings along quietly, anticipating the time we lie sideways on the queen bed in her room (which used to be the guest room before we moved the crib in there) each night by lamplight, reading “Corduroy,” “Silly Sally,” “Bear Snores On” and other books, our heads sharing the same pillow.

Even though Lily has her own reading time with Joe or me before she goes to sleep, she’s lately asked to be part of “books with Mommy.” So of course I said yes, but told her that Neve gets to choose the books.

We grab a second pillow, I lie between my girls – who like to snuggle under their old baby blankets while I read – and we read. Which is lovely, because only lately has Neve been engaged in books Lily would enjoy, too. Books with a story. (She’s getting there, I’ve been thinking. Her little brain’s developing, just as her vocabulary is exploding.)

So last night, after an unusually peaceful night, wherein the girls even helped Joe make quesadillas for dinner, we enjoyed “books with Mommy” together and Lily left the room for her own bedtime preparations.

I lifted Neve into her crib, and at first, things went as they usually do. She flopped out on her stomach in the darkness, with a blanket over her, and I rubbed and patted her back through the bars.

Normally, she’s out in minutes – she’s my easy sleeper, folks, believe me – but last night, she was restless. And that’s when a small miracle occurred. Continue reading

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