The best parts of parenthood (or life?) are the unplanned, fun, unexpected moments. When you forget the routines and give into the magic.
Lilly's bedtime is pretty normal every day - but today, as Lilly was sitting in bed with a book, waiting for me at 8 pm, she seemed like she almost didn't want to go to bed. And I could have easily said: "Ok let's read our book" and gotten her to sleep in 10 minutes, I instead looked in her eyes and said "You want an adventure?"
This is when Lilly thrives. When mommy makes her an unexpected offer, when she gets to do something different - she is such a willing participant.
So I told her to put on her rain boots (because they were the most convenient) and I ran for my flip flops. And instead of drifting off to sleep, Miss Lilly Lou got to walk with mommy down the hallway of our highrise apartment building after bedtime to go put laundry in the dryer and start another load in the washer. We gathered everything we needed, and Lilly excitedly got to carry an empty milk carton to the recycling bin located on the way.
Lilly happily took every single item out of the washing machine and put it in the dryer. Then, without instruction, loaded the washing machine with the next load. She put in the laundry card ($2.50 per machine - ugh) and pushed the right buttons.
Not that I don't purely appreciate my big helper, but more than that - I am so proud of how she knows what to do, and is so happy to complete a task. She is 4 years old and is so capable. And so happy to do it all on her own.
So I raised the bar. When she was done, I told her "Go give the laundry card back to daddy. See you later, bye!" And she gladly took the card and went by herself, out two doors, down a long hallway with a couple turns, to our door down at the end, then turned the knob and went inside. (I watched the whole time, but had to be sneaky so she wouldn't catch me.) Again, proud that even though it's not super complicated, she didn't get distracted by the elevator buttons (and sneak downstairs!) or go into the wrong apartment.
And when we got inside, daddy was stretching to get ready for a nighttime run. And Miss Lilly and I sat down next to him and did all the same stretches. Then I came up with a couple more. Lilly performed them all perfectly. Finally, we were done. And before we all got up, Lilly said: "Butterfly" and put us through her version of the stretching exercises, remembering each one we did and doing them better than we had originally shown her. What a funny monkey.
We ended up going to bed an hour later than we planned; but what a fun last hour of the day. So much laughing and smiling and appreciating; I didn't want the day to end.
She finally said her goodnight prayer and we read our book and we sang "you are my sunshine" together, laughing the whole time, and she easily fell asleep.
Remind me to have more of these moments...