When you are a parent of six children, making sure they each have individual attention can become a bit of a challenge. Over the years I have taken each of my children out on an outing in order to have individual time with them where I get to spoil them a bit. I have taken them out for breakfast or lunch or an ice cream sundae and it usually also included some shopping with a treat bought for them at the end. This has always been referred to as ‘Mommy And Me Day’. However, recently my son Brandon who is sixteen said that calling it ‘Mommy And Me Day’ sounded babyish. So we joked for awhile about trying to come up with a new title and each title got sillier and sillier until I said we should call it, ‘Hangin’ With The Mama-Yo!’ and all the kids groaned and that was the end of trying to come up with a new title.
I have also always made sure I spent time reading to my children when they were growing up. As they got older, I chose to read more classics or books that fostered discussion or were a bit of a challenge for them to read to themselves. So I read to them, Little Women, The Chronicles Of Narnia, The Neverending Story, A Wrinkle In Time Series, The Secret Garden, The Little Prince etc until they decided they much rather read for themselves. The difficult thing was trying to read to the various age groups. If I tried to read to them A Wind In The Door, one or more of the younger children found it too challenging to grasp and so I would pause to explain to the younger ones what was going on. This didn’t always worked so well. So it evolved into taking turns to read to each of them alone but then bedtime got prolonged. The point is, I kept trying new ways to give each of them one-on-one time and a nice ritual at bedtime.
I don’t exactly remembered how it started or when but I think Dustin was between the age of 10 and 13. He inherited his sister’s bunk-beds when Brandon was born but Brandon was not yet old enough to sleep in them so for a while Dustin slept in the bottom bunk. I purchased these glow-in-the-dark star stickers and I stuck them at random on the undserside of the top bunk so when he was in bed at night, he could look up and see stars.
This became the bedtime ritual we called, ‘Looking At Stars Together’. Before saying goodnight I would lie in bed next to him and we would both look at the stars and talk about…well anything Dustin wanted to talk about really. We had some very deep and thoughtful conversations. Some things Dustin wanted to talk about where stuff he read in books, other times it was stuff that made him sad; sometimes we would laugh together but mostly I was just there for him to be with and talk to. I still remember a few of the really big conversations like the one where he spoke in hush tones with his voice full of awe and the one where he was particularly distressed about something.
I am looking forward to seeing Dustin when I visit New York. I look forward to spending time with him and the conversations we will have.
It still happens that when I am out at night walking the dog, I often look at the stars and think of those special moments I use to have with him when he was young. I don’t always think of it in words but I remember the closeness and the stargazing.