Each night before we put the kids to bed, we read them a chapter of the "Jesus Storybook Bible" followed by a prayer and then a chorus of "Jesus Loves Me." We began this exact bed time routine with Allie when she was a year old and established it with Zach around the same age as well.
Although it would probably be more time efficient now to do the whole bed time spiel together with both kids at the same time, we've kept each kid separate (mostly due to the fact that the few times we've tried their bedtime routine together, they were so hyper and rowdy that we couldn't get a word in edgewise).
Typically I'm all about efficiency, but the older the kids get, the more I realize how important it is to keep their bed time routines separate as it gives them time to wind down, spend one on one time with either Ben or I, provides opportunity to answer their personal questions about the Bible story (or just life in general), and gives them an opportunity to pray uninterrupted by each other.
Ben usually heads up the bed time routine in the evening mainly because I do a similar version each day separately with both kids before nap time. Interestingly enough, I'm fairly certain if Zach had his way, he would request Mommy every night while Allie most certainly would demand Daddy. Hmmm...looks like we definitely have a Daddy's Girl and Momma's Boy in the making.
Anyway, this past Sunday night I was given the rare opportunity of performing both kids' bed time routines because I just could not refuse the two freshly bathed kids dancing around the bathroom requesting that Mommy alone put them to bed.
Zach is always up first. So, after the ritualistic hugs and kisses, we headed to his room to read about Noah. I think the story of Noah is presently one of Zach's favorite biblical accounts. He is so enamored by the big BIG boat and is curious about each and every animal that enters it. Usually by bedtime, though, Zach is pretty sleepy, so he listened intently to my reading while snuggling up in my lap and sucking his thumb.
After the story of Noah concluded, he insistently demanded, "Zach, Pray!" I obliged and listened in on his conversation with God that went a little something like this:
"God...thankyou for Mommy....thankyou for Daddy....thankyou for Owie (Allie)....thankyou for Jesus died...Oh Lord...God...Lord...Look at Jesus (pointing to the picture on the front of the Bible)...Thankyou for God...."
At this point I began to pray, thinking that he was finished, but he instantly let me know that he was not done yet by pointing his chubby little finger at me and proclaiming, "NO, Mommy...Zach pray!" I stopped at once and listened to a couple more "Lords" and "Gods" before I heard something that sounded like an "Amen" followed by his command for "Mommy pray."
After singing along to "Jesus Loves Me," Zach was more than ready for bed and with one final kiss, I laid him in his crib and headed out of his room to find Allie who is usually still finishing up her nightly grooming rituals.
Surprisingly, Allie was mostly done applying her "lipstick" (which is actually just chapstick) and was just about ready for her bed time. Because she was a little bit sad about the fact that the next day Daddy would be at work, she requested he carry her into bed and give her one last hug and kiss...she also wanted to make sure that his feelings weren't hurt because she had chosen me to put her to bed.
So, following Daddy's departure from her room, we began to read the story of Noah. Unlike Zach, who usually listens quietly, Allie had a question for me with the turn of each page. "Mom, why does he have to build a boat again? Mom, why didn't the other people besides Noah love God? Mom, how many animals do you think were in the boat? Mom, what happened to the other people that weren't Noah's family? WHAT? They DIED?! But, will I die too if I don't love God? Do you think I don't love God when I do naughty things?"
After answering and discussing those and a multitude of other theological questions that I just never realized I would be asked by a 4-year old, we were ready for our prayer time. Usually Allie asks me to pray first and that night was no exception. So, after I prayed, she prayed something that went a little like this:
"God, thank you for Mommy, Daddy, Zach, and me. Help me not to be naughty. Thankyou for church today. Thankyou for my coughs, but help it to stop, please. Please help us not to be killed. Thankyou for Jesus. And thankyou for my princesses and books. And my friends. Amen"
We both sang "Jesus Loves Me" and after making sure her baby bear and other multitudes of stuffed animals were safely tucked in for the evening and were able to see the nightlight, I gave her one last kiss and turned off the light before leaving the room.
And, thus, both kids were soundly tucked into bed. (Notice I did not say that they fell asleep. That would probably require an entirely different post revolving around Zach's extensive twilight chats with himself and his infamous after dark Christmas caroling in addition to Allie's million and one excuses as to why she has to get up out of bed at least a thousand times before allowing her extremely fatigued eyes to close and succumb to much needed sleep.)