Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Pajamas" and Nightly Questions

There’s something about a freshly bathed child, dressed in a “onesie” ready for bed. It’s storytime followed by tuck-in time. Or at our house Pajamas time.

Many were the nights that I performed this “duty” when my children were little. My attitude was that I couldn’t nurse my babies but I could bathe them and get them ready for bed allowing my wife a well-deserved respite. (She would have taken care of the kids while I fixed dinner and I would get them ready for bed while she cleaned up from dinner).

I could go on for pages about the number of times that each Dr. Seuss or Berenstain Bear book was read. (Susan was always partial to the Berenstain Bears and Mike preferred Dr. Seuss). I loved the way the kids smelled freshly scrubbed, powdered and diapered with just a hint of formula on their breath.

From the time Mike (2 years older) was an infant until Susan was 7 or 8 tuck-in time was always followed by a song—one of my all time favorite kids songs. It’s off the late 70’s album “In Harmony” which was produced by Sesame Street. This magical album (which I wore out twice on “vinyl” and once on cassette and you can get it now on CD) featured the Doobie Brothers, Bette Midler, James Taylor, Carlie Simon, Al Jarreau, Linda Ronstadt, George Benson plus Ernie and Cookie Monster.

My favorite song though was written and performed by Livingston Taylor and it’s called “Pajamas”.

I sang this song to my kids every night for years. There were times when I had an evening meeting and I would get out of it in time to tuck the kids in and sing to them. Sometimes I left the meeting, went home for my nightly ritual and then returned to the meeting. (Small towns seem to be a bit more tolerant of this element of life).

I still love this delightful little song. Here are the lyrics:

By Livingston Taylor

I've got my pajamas on
Before I go to bed I'm going to run around.
I'm standing on my head
And the world is upside down.

Me and Wilson, my teddy bear
We're going to do a lot of wiggling
Before we go upstairs
Watch out you lions you tigers you bears
I've got my pajamas on

Mommy said put 'em on
I said no
Daddy said let's go
I said all right
I'm clean and I'm warm
and I'm out of sight
I've got my pajamas on

I'm in Daddy's lap, fading fast
Wilson, if you want to mess around
You'll have to do it alone
I love being little
And I'll love being grown
I've got my pajamas on.

Here’s a link to a sample of the song on Artist Direct:,,106395-12233316,00.html

There was another part of the nightly ritual. It was called “Questions”. I really wanted my children to know—to absolutely know—as the last thing they heard from me at night that they were loved. No matter what. If they had been naughty during the day or cranky. (Or if I had been either of those things too). They should go to sleep feeling safe and secure and cherished.

I would tuck them each in—for a while they shared a bedroom—and kneel on the floor looking at my children, ready to drift off. I would softly ask the questions as they were snuggling in and drifting off, answers coming back at me more slowly and softly as sleep overtook them.

“Does Mommy love Mikey and Susan?”
“Does Daddy love Mikey and Susan?”
“Does Eric
(their brother) love Mikey and Susan?”
“Do Grandma and Grandpa and Grandma and Grandpa love Mikey and Susan?”
“Does puppy dog Shorts love Mikey and Susan?”
“Does everyone love Mikey and Susan?”
“Is it time to go night-night?”
“Are you going to see happy pictures when you sleep?”
“What kind of pictures are you going to see?”

Go to sleep and see your pictures.
Night, night. I love you

They would drift off with the look of innocent children on their faces. I would kiss each of them goodnight, turn off the light and slip out of their rooms. Checking back a little later just to see them again; asleep, at peace, hopefully dreaming “happy pictures”.

I miss doing that. It was always incredibly relaxing for me too. The last time I asked Questions was when my daughter was about 19, lonely and down and she called one night. Because she wanted Questions. I was delighted to oblige. And I still am.

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