My ten-year-old has a new bedtime routine. Each night when I tuck him in he asks me series of questions about my favorites things. Mom, what’s your favorite movie? What’s your favorite country? What’s your favorite sport? What’s your favorite color? What’s the best book you read when you were in school?
These are fun questions to answer – although they get a bit repetitive. Tonight he differentiated the movie question to ask my favorite recent movie – as opposed to the top five of all time (“yes, Mom, I know, Casablanca, Gone with the Wind, and I can’t remember the rest.”) (For the record, A Room With a View, Annie Hall and Singin’ in the Rain.)
I have been struck by these questions, thinking that perhaps he is storing the information away to be resurrected at some later date when he is thinking about me. But I think it’s more than that. I think that he is beginning the drawn out process of separating from me, and that these questions are his way of drawing me close, even when he’s getting ready to pull away.
My daughter did the same thing. About six months before she turned 11, she changed our goodnight routine. Up until that time, we had snuggled and nuzzled and kissed goodnight pretty much the same way from the time she was a little girl (except for the year she where she would almost robotically recite a little ditty for us, the nonsense words to which I’ve written down somewhere for posterity, but that was an aberration.)
Then, all of a sudden, whenever I would lean down to kiss her goodnight, she would grab me with both arms, pull me down into the bed and giggle “Mommy, come sleep with me!” She’d try to get me to lie down with her and spend the night, not something we’d ever done in our house.