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December 2, 2010 / Chip

Going to Sleep

Since returning from our East Coast trip several days ago, Ellis has requested someone to snuggle her to sleep. For the first couple of nights, it was only Jenny, but then I had my time in the sun, or moon, last night: When Jenny creaked into the room after having gotten Sevie down, Ellis dispatched of her, with the words, “Jenny, you can go away. Papa is snuggling me.” Yeah, I couldn’t complain about that.

But tonight I was resolved for Ellis to fall asleep by herself. So after reading her a chapter of a book (which turned out to be about a girl who was scared to go to sleep, due to monsters hiding in every crevice of her room — in other words, I had to veer off-script, ad-libbing everything I was saying while turning the pages methodically along the way), I laid out the plan. “You can do it, Ellis,” I said. “But Papa,” she replied, “it’s Hanukkah. Snuggle me. Just for tonight. Just one more night.” Then she unwound a new line: “You have my word.” (Where on this blue earth did she learn that expression?) “Ellis, that’s crazy. You can go to sleep by yourself. We’re developing a pattern here. How will I know you won’t pull this tomorrow?” I asked, trying to reason with a 4.5-year-old and beginning to build up a head of steam. “Chip,” she said solemnly, “you have my word.” As if she knew what that meant. Sure enough, though, I ended up curled alongside her in bed. Two minutes went by. “I love you, Ellis.” “I love you, too.” Three minutes later: “Papa, I love you. Let me kiss you.” One minute more: “Papa, night night.” And I crept out, with her blessing, no steam left, only a warm heart.


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