Weekly Column: Bedtime favorites

©Stephenie Freeman

After baths are taken and teeth are brushed, it’s time to read books before going to bed.

It’s such a nice calming bedtime routine that we all enjoy and leaves me feeling like I’m finishing the day parenting on a high note, minus all of the debating and begging over which books will be read tonight.

“No, pick a different one…we read that one last night…because it is too long…oh, please God, no…don’t make me read ‘Moo, Baa, La, La, La’ again. I promise to be good. Please. Choose. Something. Different.”

My boys often get into what I refer to as “favorite book ruts.” They want the same story read to them night after night after night. My begging and pleading for something new often falls on deaf ears. Once again I find myself reading “Fox in Sox” or some other equally mind-numbing book that I’ve read enough times to have completely memorized start to finish.

I’ve read about how this repetition is good for children. But has a study ever been done about what all of this repetition does to the parents? Because the truth is, if I have to read about Mrs. Bindergarten getting ready for kindergarten one more time, my brain might finally turn to Jell-O.

I’m not complaining. Not really. I might be reading “Goodnight Moon” for the millionth time, but having a small child in your lap, smelling of Johnson’s baby shampoo, listening to every last word that falls from your lips creates the kind of memory that I will revisit time and time again long after my boys are grown and gone.

Many of the books that we read that teach moral lessons. We’ve learned about strangers from the Berenstain Bears and about accepting people’s differences from Clifford the Big Red Dog. I’m not sure if there are any moral lessons to be gleaned from Dr. Seuss except that reading is fun when everything rhymes and there are lots of weird, made up words.

There are times, however, when I suddenly get a break from our regular reading repetition. It’s during these times that they request a Mommy Story.

“Do the ones when you say, ‘Once upon a time.’ I want one of those,” the Monkey will say.

Instead of feeling relief from not having to read “Good Night, Gorilla” yet again, I feel pressure to produce a bedtime story that is at par with my sons’ high bedtime story standards.

I mean, how can a simple, made up story by Mommy possibly compete with all-time favorites like “Sheep in a Jeep” and “Are You My Mother?”

In all honesty, it’s really not that difficult. Make your kid the main character—the star of his own show—and suddenly you become the greatest children’s author of all time.

There’s something enjoyable about telling a story that you’ve never told before. My boys give me a topic to start with that usually include their favorite things or a sport that they are currently interested in, and as long as they are the winner or the hero in the end, my new and unique bedtime story is always a hit.

Some of my made up stories have become bedtime favorites. For a week or so they will ask for “The Car Wash Story” or “The Golf Course Story” over and over again until a new favorite finds its way off of the shelf.

Which is fine with me. As Dr. Seuss put it so well, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

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