One of my (and my wife's) favorite times is our kids' bedtime. No, it's not because we finally get some peace and quiet -- I'm not talking about after they're in bed, I'm talking about the actual process of putting them down.
The whole thing is just a blast for me. I think there are several reasons for this:
1) For five days of the week, bedtime represents a large chunk of the time I spend with my kids. Between working hours and my commute, there's only about two hours a day I'm home while they're awake. Those last 30 minutes before they go to sleep are precious minutes for me to catch up on their day.
2) It's a regular routine. I'm a man. Men like routines, but some men like them more than others. My ruts run so deep that I've hung pictures on the wall, as the saying goes.
3) It's a funny time. When Samantha's in a silly mood, she likes to play word games with me while we're putting her pajamas on. If she's in a quiet, tired mood, she'll ask me to sing "Dreams". No, it's not a sweet lullaby -- she's asking for the classic 80s hit by Heart. Just because she's two years old doesn't mean she can't learn to develop a good taste in music, ha.
4) Bedtime is when moments of truth emerge. These are the moments when your child looks at you and lets you into their world, if only for a few seconds. This is when they tell you about the bully at school (we're not there yet), their bad dream from last night, or fear of the dark. In 10 years, maybe bedtime is when she'll tell me about her best friend's hurtful words, or about that cute boy who doesn't even know she exists. Whatever it will be, I see it as my job as Daddy to be listening very carefully for these moments. And to handle them with great care and love when they appear.
Samantha had one of these moments last night, and it was a purely positive one. She was pleading to hold her baby brother Jack (5 months today), which is unusual for her. So as we sat her on the bed and put Jack carefully in her lap, she stroked his head, kissed him and said, "I love you, Jack. You're my best friend."
Jamie and I could do nothing but smile and observe the moment. I hope there are many more.