Tonight my 10 year old daughter told me in her 'serious-yet-joking voice' that she was not "going to bed without a proper goodnight!" She has been practicing her serious voice for some time now -imagine how cute it was at 4 years old. For a 10 yr. old girl, a 'proper goodnight' entails a myriad of rituals. There's the joking and teasing as we remove the stuffies from the bed. Then pulling back the covers. Then there's the 'lean in for a hug and kiss.' Which is promptly followed by her request for a story, as she uses her super-power, death grip on my arm, while looking up at me with super-power puppy-dog eyes. So I lay down next to her with book in hand and begin the next chapter of the most recent book we've started. If it's a Nancy Drew mystery, one chapter is never enough. We always want to know what happens next. When reading time has come to completion, I tell her how much I love her and give her so many kisses that she's got extra for the next day. We wish each other 'sleep tight' and 'love you' as I turn out the lights on my way out the door.
This seemingly simple ritual performed in households throughout the world would seem to be perfunctory or just another chore of parenthood. However, any ritual involving love is complex and meaningful. Chores are perfunctory; love is not. Loving others should be an experience which transcends this moment in time. Love transcends time and place. When I think about my daughters' request I realize how we all deserve a 'proper goodnight' -one filled with rituals of sweetness and gentle ways. It should feel calm and quiet yet laced with joy on the edge of laughter.
If we all had a 'proper goodnight,' dreams would be richer and sleep would be deeper. Imagine waking up filled with an inner light and happiness that comes from knowing that you are so well loved. I hope this is what I am giving to my daughter. I hope that you can give this to the loved ones in your life.