When the moon is on the rise

I remember back when my nieces were little -- both under 3 -- I would sometimes be at their apartment for dinner and then stay while my sister put them to bed. She never strayed from the schedule, and it was a comforting routine. The girls would dance, brush their teeth, change into pajamas, zip into their fleece sleep sacs in wintertime. Then Dara would read them stories on the couch. There were three books I remember on heavy rotation, all board books by Sandra Boynton: Blue Hat, Green Hat (which the girls like to "read" by looking at the pictures), Pajama Time and The Going to Bed Book. In the last one there's a page where animals go up to the roof to exercise after they get on their PJs and brush their teeth. On one visit my mom had made a comment about how silly that was -- to get all hyped up at that point in the bedtime routine. The observation stuck with Eliana. On subsequent readings when we got to that page, she would point to the pig doing handstands and said, "Mimi not like that part." 

After the books, off they'd shuffle to bed with a round of hugs for any adults present. I'd wait on the couch while Dara sang the same songs every night --  "Goodnight Ladies" and "Make New Friends", one verse of each. Then she'd shut their door and we'd chat for a little bit, maybe eat some Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Usually she had to work then and usually I had somewhere to go or at least a dog to walk so I'd say goodnight and be on my way. After the books and the cozy pajamas and the lullabies in the dimly lit room, I'd feel kind of quiet and tired in a sort of trance. Riding down in the elevator, I had the sense that it must be rather late and maybe I should be getting to bed myself. Then out on the sidewalk I'd glance at my watch. Seeing the actual time would jolt me awake and suddenly I'd feel so free like I'd just been handed all this time that wasn't really mine. Like setting the clocks back, but for several hours, not just one. It's really only 8:30? I'd think, smiling to myself. I still have the whole night? Magic.

I'd go galavanting into that Brooklyn night full of wonder, maybe calling Alex to see what he was up to. And now here it is five years later, 9:00 PM. I've set down my Princeton Review Cracking the GRE book for the night. Alex kindly cleaned the kitchen. Wally's asleep and it feels ridiculously late. I'm wondering if I'll manage to stay awake for Modern Family. 

"And when the moon is on the rise, we all go up to exercise."
The Going to Bed Book

Sandra Boynton


  1. Perhaps you just aren't that silly anymore...getting all hyped up on the streets of Brooklyn after lullabye time... But what am I talking about? -yikes- I shouldn't be reading your blog, it is 9:04. Goodnight lady...you are a charming writer.

  2. It's my favorite of S. Boynton's I think

    Jeanette - That could well be it -- (not that silly anymore)...and thank you. Hope you got some rest.

  3. We love that book. And my husband is in the fitness industry, so that exercise bit has always made all of us laugh. I need to dig it out for my 15 month old! Thanks for the reminder.


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