I cannot find the book just now (and my Google Fu fails me), but in Elizabeth Berg's book 'Open House' the mother is going through her son's room, and she finds a book she used to read him when he was little. Countless times she read it to him, him sitting in her lap.
But of course, one of those times was the last time.
The character says she wishes she knew that the last time was going to be, truly, the last time, when it happened.
... I think about this often as my girls are bli ayin hara growing and changing and moving away from their little childhood.
(Example: I have decided Sroch is officially, now at age 9, graduated from 'young childhood.' What comes next is all tween and adolescence and other scary things, but she is officially done with Childhood, which means... we didn't mess it up. Shhhhhh... but like, goal accomplished, eh? Achievement unlocked - you didn't screw up your kid's early childhood! But I digress....)
I mean, the last times I nursed them, those I recognized as the last times pretty much.
And graduations from gan, yeah, I knew those were final.
But not much else is signaled as Last... until you look back, often years later, and go - oh. Oh. That was it.
When the babies were babies I sang to them every night, and lots of naps besides. When they got older there would be bedtimes without singing, but there were still lots.
Books, stories - those are rare now (they read their own books), but still occasional. Ditto saying shema with them; sometimes they say it on their own, sometimes they read it, and sometimes I still say it with Llama.
If they want singing, they will usually ask for a CD. Not for me.
(and to my shame, by the time they go to bed I'm usually so ready for them to go to bed, I don't volunteer)
Last night the girlies were a little fractious, and when I - with great relief - closed the bedroom door to do Ultra Grownup Things (translation = fold laundry), I was singing. The girls called me back and asked me to sing "something nice for us to listen to."
So I stood in the living room, folding countless uniform shirts and sizes 7-10 and 12-14 (!) tights - and I sang my girlies to sleep.
It may be the last time.
And that is a kind of sad, but it's also a little like my mental checkbox that Sroch finished being little without us breaking her: I can look back at all the times I did sing to them, and know I Did It Right. That stage may be over, but it was Accomplished, not just Finished.
Of course, I'm still crying onto my desk while I'm writing this.
(I cheer up as I recall last times I don't MIND being in the past- wiping comes to mind....)
There are lots of last times that will come soon, all the last times of Now, like we'll get to the last time I brush their hair out - the last time I help them in the shower - the last time I put their tights on them (that can be now, mmmkay girls??). And there are still first times, even if they are scarier (first times crossing streets ... first times babysitting for money... first times they drive (way in the future, thank God, they can't even always successfully eat with a fork)).
But it may be the last time I sing them to sleep after all.
... So, no pressure to give me grandkids, okay girls? Okay.
Having gotten through the spate of 'yoms' just now (Yom Hashoa, Yom Hazikaron, Yom Haatzmaut) I had a lot of conversations with the girls about what the days are, the nature of a secular holiday as opposed to a religious one, mutual respect and so on. I was curious, though, what Llama would get from school about any of them, this being her first year in Real School.
I asked her about what the class did during the siren on Yom Hazikaron (item: Sroch's naughty class mostly stood at attention just to interrupt the teacher. Oh, such normal elementary school children! I was so much worse than they!). She said her teacher talked about it and how many Israelis stand still for the siren, not speaking:
"But Mommy, I get it, they are standing like out of kavod (respect) for the chayalim (soldiers) who are dead. But what does it help them? They're DEAD. It doesn't even DO anything, it doesn't HELP them. Like they don't need the kavod ! It doesn't make any sense!"
Um, right. Well, yes.
So we talked about that the point is the ALIVE people think that it's a kavod to the dead people, and so if she were to find herself outside at that time then we should also stand still, so no one who thinks it's important will think we are being DISrespectful to the soldiers. We don't want anyone to think we don't value the chayalim (because we value them very much), so we stand still as a kavod to the live people who are standing still as a kavod to the dead people. Simple.
"But MOMMY, we don't care what other people think of us! We do what we are supposed to do and we don't care what people say!"
Um.... um... shoot.
That's correct, Llama. But um - we um sorta care? Like sometimes?
Oh booger. Just if you're outside during the siren, say tehillim or something, okay??
We did talk about also the fact that what we do in this world can make a difference for souls of people who have died, but um, yeah. We don't care what people think about us except oh yes we do.
I've been having this conundrum with a different daughter of mine as well... No, we don't care what others think about us. But yes, you should pay attention not to be so different that you are mocked or shunned. No, there's nothing wrong with being different. But yes, maybe don't be so different you don't have friends. AW BOOGER.
Seriously, I spent my childhood trying to be Different For the Sake of Different (partially as a reaction to my classmates deciding FOR me that I was already Different so I just embraced the heck outa that) and I never want my children to blindly follow the masses but to DO WHAT IS RIGHT AND MAKES THEM HAPPY... unless it ostracizes them for no reason or causes a chillul Hashem or goes against halacha or is just really strange like eating boogers or or or or or ARGH.
.... more and more I realize why such a large percentage of my peer group on Facebook discusses drinking wine on a regular basis.