Thursday, May 03, 2007

Daddy, go sleep

Nighttime at our house tends to follow a fairly straightforward routine for our boys, most of the time. There's dinner, playtime, baths, videos, brushing teeth, and the final ritual of actually getting into bed and (with any luck) getting them to sleep.

Usually, my seven year old autistic son initiates this last step with the words "Daddy, go sleep" or "Daddy, lay down with me." Which, I must admit, I have tended to view with mixed feelings at times. It is terribly sweet that he finds contact with me so comforting, yet I have tended to cut this time short as much as I could. There were just other things that seemed to need doing -- whether that was keeping up on some TV show, getting some paperwork done for work, or make a run to the grocery store.

So tonight my seven-year-old is playing this variation of hide and seek with me, and he gets to a point where he realizes that he's tired. He looks up at me and says "Daddy, go sleep" -- and as he does so he reaches up with his hand and gently touches my cheek. I could be totally reading into it, of course, but to me it seemed to be his way of communicating how much it meant to him to have me there, to just be present with him as he falls off to sleep.

So tonight I didn't cut the time short. I stayed there with him, observing the gentle rhythm of his breathing as he slowly drifted off to sleep. His little face seeming perfectly content, perfectly at peace. And I realized as I gazed upon him that this peace was contagious, that I left the room enriched in ways that grocery runs, paperwork, and television could not provide.


Gannet Girl said...

My dd needed me to lie down with her for years before she could fall asleep on her own.

Last fall when we visited her at college, we all came back to our hotel room and she and her roommate and I curled up on the bed together to watch Gray's Anatomy. There comes a time when that kind of late-evening drowsy closeness is a once-or-twice a year event -- if you're lucky.

steve said...

What a lovely relationship you seem to have with your daughter! I fear that these moments in my boys' childhood will be all I'll get -- these kinds of things become distinctly unmanly after a certain age.