Tonight I was putting my almost two-year old, Jonah, to bed. I have this trick where I tell him to pretend like he's sleeping. Actually, I learned it from our nanny because she's about a million times smarter than I am. Anyway, I say, "Close your eyes and pretend like you're sleeping." Typically he puts his head down and then will pop back up in about five seconds. At night I secretly hope that he'll just close his eyes, forget that he's playing a game and then accidentally fall asleep. It's sort of similar to the other game we play where I keep reading him books hoping that he'll just, you know, nod off. He doesn't. I'm not that good at this parenting thing. It's probably why I waited so long. Sometimes I surprise myself. When we laid down tonight I told him that if he looks up towards the sky and closes his eyes really hard he can see the stars and the moon. If you want to go the moon, all you have to do is reach up for a star with one hand, and then pull yourself to another star with your other hand, and you just keep doing this--you keep climbing the stars back and forth--until you reach the moon! And once you've reached the moon you can go anywhere you like. You can see friends you miss--there's Wy wy and Havey, remember Granny?--you can climb on forklifts and diggers... In his sweet little drifting voice he whispered, "dig-guh."
I found myself describing a world of delight and wonder. We defied physics and time. As we lay in the dark, we flew over the countries we have visited together, and then moved on to the ones that we're about to visit. We glided over Iceland's tundra and then swooped down through Amsterdam's canals. We looked at the bicycles on the cobbled streets and we put on our sweaters at night for a brisk ride along the waterfront. A ladybug landed on his arm and told us that we should go see Paris so we did.
He nuzzled softly into me as I pulled the covers over our shoulders. Our little universe continued to unfold. When you close your eyes and look up at the sky, it turns out that butterflies and dinosaurs and kitty cats are all the same size and you can climb a tree to float on the clouds. Clouds are like bubbles that don't pop; they just gently change their mind.
Somewhere between swimming with dolphins and riding on the backs of orca whales, Jonah fell asleep. In the near dark I listened to the rise and fall of his breath and looked for the outline of his tiny mouth. I want to hold onto time. Of the countless nights I have spent trying to bribe, cajole and trick my way into bedtime, I had no idea that we only had to close our eyes.