When I was about 12 years old my family went on a road trip to visit relatives. My cousin and her family drove in their van along with us. During a particularly boring stretch of highway 5 I asked to ride with my cousin. We sat on the floor in the back of the van, (without seat belts) and amused ourselves by telling stories, and playing games. One of the games we played involved giving each other the chills. My cousin taught me a rhyme that went like this:
Going on a treasure hunt,
Going on a treasure hunt.
Up goes the snake that bites,
Down goes the blood,
Now, you’ve got the chills.
As she said the rhyme my cousin tapped my back (treasure hunt), pinched my neck (snake bite), blew on my spine (cool breeze), and squeezed my ribs (tight squeeze). By the time she traced her fingernails along my back and uttered the words, “Now you’ve got the chills,” my skin was covered with goosebumps.
When I became a mother, I learned that bedtime rituals are an important part of helping kids transition to sleep. I made sure I performed the typical rituals of bathing, brushing teeth, and reading books. Now that my youngest child is 9 years-old he takes care of most of these rituals himself. But one ritual my son Diego will not ever let me miss is the Treasure Hunt.
Every night after he has completed his bedtime hygiene he tells me, “Come on Mommy, let’s go.” Then, I follow him to bed where I squeeze in next to him and begin the Treasure Hunt. Using my longish fingernails, I tap, pinch, blow, squeeze and trace my fingers on his back. Diego not only gets goosebumps, the hair on his arms stands on end. Some nights I am so preoccupied or tired that I beg off doing the Treasure Hunt, and suggest his dad do it instead. My husband, the nail biter, is a poor substitute.
Last week, on a night when I was so busy I still hadn’t finished the dinner dishes by 9:00pm, I grumbled that maybe he should ask his Dad to tuck him into bed. Diego’s face appeared so crestfallen that I was promptly reminded that these rituals wouldn’t last forever and the dinner dishes could wait. I lay down in his twin size bed and began…”Going on a treasure hunt….” When I was done I heard Diego shudder and saw his arms covered in goosebumps. I laughed softly, happy I made time for this moment. These times will pass all too quickly. Then, we had this exchange:
Me: What are you going to do when you’re all grown up? I’m not going to do the Treasure hunt.
Diego: Why not?
Me: Well, you won’t be living here and you may be married. Besides, your wife might get jealous.
Diego: She won’t be jealous. You can do the Treasure hunt on her too.
Do you have any special rituals that you do before bedtime?