For the last few years our bedtime ritual has been the same. Each kid picks a book. Each kid gets a turn with mom and dad lying in their bunk. The songs, the prayers, the words, the hugs, the kisses. Patterns repeated with love. For as long as I can remember now, and our daughter is 7 ½ years old, we have said our bedtime prayers in the same fashion. When it is my turn to lay with our little girl I ask her for what she is most thankful for that day. I am seeking out her consolation, what gave her the most joy, the bit of the day that was most special to her, gave her meaning. For as long as I can remember her answer has been the same, “EVERTHING,” she practically shouts out in the dark of her bedroom. I always try to fish for more, wanting a specific. But that is our daughter, lover of life, lover of everything. The second part of our prayer is honoring the desolation of the day so I ask her what gave her the least joy, for what part of the day is she least grateful. Same answer night after night. “NOTHING.” Again, I try to prod for more, wanting her to dig deeper. But that again is our daughter. Content. Delighted and satisfied with it all.
Tonight, the same questions, different answers. The bright spot in her day was, “School.” The dark part, the part she was least grateful for, “You yelling at brother.” And right there in that moment, her desolation, although it broke my heart, was my consolation, for it was the moment my daughter took a risk by sharing her heart. She dug deep. And for that I hugged her harder, said more words, and honored her honesty with a promise. Not a promise that I would never yell at her brother again but a promise that I would try very hard not to.