When I put my kids to sleep, the bedtime ritual can often seem routine. I tend to make it fun when they are with me overnight. I already feel a strong bond with both of my children, but the little things we do with our kids sometimes have greater meaning than we think.
I’ve been telling stories to my daughter ever since I can remember. She is a lot older now, but for the first few years of her life I had this little thing I did before I tucked her into bed. I tell the story of John the Lion and his daddy.
Since I love being creative, I would just make up stories of a little lion and his dad on many adventures. I start out the story with John saying, “daddy…daddy… DADDY! Can we go to….” I would insert a specific place that a kid would want to go, like the zoo, the park, the circus, etc. Then I would keep the story going. Daddy would reply “No John, we can’t go now because it is too……late, or too far…etc..” I would make up some lame excuse. John would plead for his dad to take him and he would finally give in to his request.
The story would unfold from there. I would actually surprise myself with how interesting my stories would be. My daughter LOVED it. It was just a little thing I would do to have a special bond between her and I. It started to fade away during my divorce a few years ago because I was not able to tuck her in to bed. My court order kicked me out of the marital bedroom. Looking back, I would never suggest ANY man agree to be kicked out of their own bedroom or home. Don’t allow the relationship between you and your children ever become interrupted. But I digress.
So, when I finally got my own apartment and the kids would stay with me, I revived John the Lion. Well, at least I tried. Sleeping in a completely different place with a slightly new routine was tough for a while. My son, who was 2, missed his mother and it was still a little rough on my 6-year-old daughter at the time.
I slowly weaved my storytelling back into our bedtime routine over the years. Children tend to be highly adaptable. Now, my 5-year-old son begs me to tell stories. My daughter is even requesting some of the old stories I used to tell her. It’s amazing how I even remember the details of the classics.
The new stories are fascinating to both kids. I guess my 30-plus years of creativity and improvisation as a musician has applications in places I would never suspect. It can be quite a challenge to make up a complete story on the spot, but is incredibly rewarding to see the smile on their beautiful little faces before they fall off to sleep.
Sometimes it is the little things that make all the difference.
This is just one of my favorite parts being a father to two wonderful kids. Maybe one day they will continue John the Lion’s adventures to their children. Something tells me they will.