Raphael thinks he is a big boy. And, much to my disappointment, he thinks that big boys don’t need kisses at bedtime and they certainly don’t need tucking in. Big boys get into their beds, pull up the covers, and go to sleep all by themselves, he told me.
I do manage to smooch him up plenty during more unsuspecting times of the day, so I decided not to push the bedtime kisses. I asked if I could pat him goodnight instead, and he consented. And so it went for a couple of weeks.
Last night, though, after I watched him arrange his friends (Curious George, Tigger, and a number of stuffed cows — he’s had a bovine infatuation since he was about 18 months), adjust his pillow, and pull up his covers, I leaned in to give him the customary good night pat, and he grabbed me. His small hands pulled me in close and he hugged me. Close. Cheek to cheek. Just us, just hugging, just sharing the same warm space for just a few seconds. And then he kissed me — wet and wonderful — on the cheek before turning over to sleep.
One of the rewards of letting go of our big boys is that sometimes, even if it’s an accident or a temporary lapse of judgment, they reach back for us. I know that big boys don’t need bedtime kisses. But that doesn’t mean they can’t sometimes want them.