Putting my children to bed is this huge event in our house that has become, for me, a huge conflict of emotions. During this rigorous routine of bathing and teeth-brushing and pajama choosing, I am in a big rush to get it all done and have time to myself. Finally. At long last. I often feel that once I am downstairs without these people I love so desperately, I take my first breath of the entire day.
On the other hand, the routine itself has given us this magical bond. The methodical movement from step to step settles them down and is the signal of the end of the day. Noah becomes extra snuggly and Joey confides secrets he has been holding in all day, until that very special moment where I turn off the lights and lean down to kiss him goodnight (which he always wipes off, an involuntary reaction for which he instantly apologizes). He locks his arms around my neck and pulls me close and says, "Want to hear something?"
Tonight, he said, "Mommy, I got to sing a solo today!"
Trying to squash my own cringe-worthy memories of solo moments in my own elementary years, I thought of how much I love Joey's singing and said with great enthusiasm, "You did? Oh my goodness! Did your teacher pick you?"
Joey, thankfully, has either not yet reached the point where he becomes embarrassed or else is going to be one of the great people in the world who can just be himself without care. I'm hoping for the latter. Either way, he didn't miss a beat and responded with, "Oh, no. I asked for one!"
I said, "You brave boy! What did you say?"
"Well," he screws up his face here as he remembers, "I actually asked if I could have my own solo in the Spring Concert, but the teacher said no. Do you know what he said next?"
"What did he say?" Joey's smile is so big and so happy I truly cannot wait to hear the next sentence.
"He said, 'You can't have a solo in the concert, but you can have one right now.' So I said SURE!" I squeezed him in my excitement as he continued, "So I stood in front of everyone, the whole class. I asked my teacher what I should sing, and he said whatever I wanted, so I just did 'Summer of '69.'"
"You did?" I said, thrilled that he chose a family fave.
"Yeah!" he said. "Except I forgot the words after 'Standing on your mama's porch.'"
"But did you start with--"
He closed his eyes and rocked, "'Got my first real six-string! Bought it at the five and dime!'"
Overcome, I hid my ridiculous Mommy Emotions with questions. "Did everyone know the song? Did your teacher know it? Did they clap for you?"
"My friends didn't know it, but my teacher did. He said the song is a true story, and that he was FIVE when it happened. He must be reeeeeeally old, huh?"
"Yes, honey," I said, loving him to levels of insanity.
"And nobody clapped, but everyone had big smiles on their faces like THIS!" And his face broke wide into his beautiful, wonderful smile. I leaned in and hugged him and congratulated him on his shining moment, on his bravery, and then wished him a good night, because wonderful or not, Bedtime is Bedtime and Enough is Enough.
"I love you, Mom," he said.
"I love you, too," I said, and closed the door behind me.
And I was sad to walk away.