Every night, when tucking the radishes into their beds, we have a ritual. It’s what you’d expect: your basic ongoing, never ending, hell. It’s not as bad as when someone forces you to talk to their mumbling kid on the phone, mind you, but it’s certainly eye-roll worthy. Brushing of teeth (aka let’s eat toothpaste), pee pee on the potty (let’s drip tinkle over the floor!), washing of the hands–"More soap, Mama."–choosing a reward sticker, slipping into PJs, climbing into cribs, selecting a bedtime story book, tucking in dolls, choosing a pillow, choosing a different stuffed animal, deciding on a different book, reading book, and then… the goddamn protests.
They’ll insist they need to go "Pee pee potty, pee pee potty!" Among their delay tactics, they beg for water as if we’d spent the day in the sun, and I fed them nothing but salty dog shots, peanut butter, and anchovies. After this, we settle into "Tapo" territory ("Te tapo?" means "I cover you?" in Spanish). "Tapo, mama! Tapo." They’re each covered with a thin blanket bearing their names and the date and time of their birth (thoughtful gift from my editor of Straight Up and Dirty). Once they’re covered, they insist on pulling their blankets down a bit, rolling onto their bellies, then they hike up their shirts, and simply state, "Back." Sometimes, they’ll add, "Annie song." This is when I scratch each of their backs in circles and sing them "Maybe," my, and their, favorite song.
Today, as they were playing, rolling around in a fortress of pillows and quilts, Abigail said, "Snuggle, Lucas. Snuggle." He took a running leap, then darted in beside his little sister, their heads touching, hair mingling. I watched the soft rise of his belly as he caught up with her breath. Abigail reached for his hand. And there they were, my prince and princess of the bible belt–an answer to my prayers.
Abigail turned to him, her brother–who adores no one more than she–then she said, "Back." Without another word, she rolled onto her tummy, exposing her back as Lucas sat up and scratched it in light circles. "Sing Annie song," she said, turning her head up to look at him. My Kind Sir began to sing, "The sun will come out tomorrow" to his little sister. Abigail set her head back on the pillow and closed her eyes. It’s all worth it–every single second of our bedtime ritual. These are the moments I cherish most. More photos here»