Most nights, my lithe, lean six-year-old sidles up in the dark beside my bed and reaches out for me. I don’t even have to open my eyes; I just know the routine, know the feel of his warmth standing beside me, know that he wants the security and reassurance of laying beside me and so I pull back the blanket and let him settle in the big bed and get back to sleep.
There are so many schools of parenting thought. There are those who, from day one, are hands-off, keep-em-at-a-distance. They are the parents who set so many rules and boundaries and who think that things like breastfeeding and the family bed and other attachment parenting terms are hugely wrong.
And there is the perspective I have held since the day my first son opened his eyes in this world: one of pulling them close, listening to the sound of their cries for the message in between the wails. The perspective of giving your children what they need and want so that they grow up confident and secure, assured of love and care, and with very few barriers to flying by the strength of their own wings.
Yes, this includes letting my children get into bed with me at night. When they were babies, that’s where they stayed! It includes creating a different parenting plan for each of my four children because they are four unique individuals with different needs and desires and goals and talents.
Yesterday, my daughter turned nine. My youngest son insisted on the day prior to his sister’s birthday that he had to make cookies for her in honor of the special day. We didn’t have time that night so he woke early yesterday and together, we baked a batch.
When she came down for breakfast, all smiles and eagerness, and saw the steaming plate of just-from-the-oven cookies, she radiantly thanked her little brother and sank her teeth into one immediately. “They are DELICIOUS,” she said graciously, and now it was her brother’s turn to beam.
My children are normal kids who bicker and fight and whine at times, but this scene warmed my heart because I knew I’d done something right. They love each other. They are compassionate toward each other and really, most of the people in the world. They show love, readily, easily.