When dinner was over it was usually close to my bedtime and bedtime was the best time of the day! It was the ultimate kid time—catered completely to and for me—with the goal of accomplishing my favorite activity in the universe: sleep! Each of my parents would come in and say goodnight to me in their own special way, but they did it one at a time. I had each one all to myself. Snuggling down into my comfy jammies, I got to listen to stories and songs. For a while there I even got to suck my thumb.[1]

I made my parents wear out copies of many children’s books: Good Night Moon; The Very Hungry Caterpillar; Horton Hears a Who!; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (every day for me); The Mitten; Millions of Cats; Amos and Boris (one of my mom’s favorite’s); Where the Wild Things Are; Alexander and the Wind Up Mouse; Frederick; The Six Little Possums and the Babysitter (another of my mom’s faves); Ox-Cart Man; Caps for Sale; The Velveteen Rabbit (William T. Bear hated that one); Beatrix Potter, Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein. There was also Roald Dahl and the series featuring George and Martha hippopotami. I was also friendly with Lyle Crocodile, Babar, Corduroy, Frog and Toad, and the Berenstain Bears.[2]

My mom invented her own story series, which she did off the cuff. The main character was Little Green Frog, which, of course, was me, and her best friend was Myrtle the Turtle. They had lots of adventures and ate lily pads for cookies. Little Green Frog’s mom and dad were Mommy Purple Frog and Daddy Purple Frog. I loved those stories and regrettably don’t remember any of them. Mom would let me contribute to the plots, so one night I made my mom kill off Mommy Purple Frog and learned that Little Green Frog would be taken care of by Daddy Purple Frog. The next night Daddy PF instead of Mommy PF made the hit list, and Mommy PF took over. The next night I had her kill off both of them, and there was still a back-up! Aunt Orange Frog took over. So, I killed her off, too, and then I was sent to Grandma Green Frog and so on and so forth until we had run through several branches of the family tree, which seemed to blossom exuberantly, somewhat assuaging my fears of being alone and unadopted. Confusingly, I was never handed off to a reptilian babysitter….…

Little Green Frog stories were usually way cheerier than those death spirals. Also, my mom had magic mom powers, and sometimes, if I were unusually tense, she would rub my back and my head and tell me to calm my breathing. Then she might sing me a song or two or three. Sometimes my dad would take the mic and sing to me (in his own soothing, tone-deaf way). His songs were always super comforting to me, too, and I never wanted them to end.

Bedtime was kid time. Pure and simple. No thinking or action required on my part. It was when my parents came down to my level. These were the times my imagination was let out to pasture (counting sheep that could leap and leap). It was a special time completely designed for me. I remember it with great fondness.

[1] Quitting thumb-sucking is like quitting smoking; One needs to be in the right mind-frame. I became resolved to quit after a visit to the dentist where he told me and my mom that if I didn’t quit, I’d push my two front teeth out so much that I’d need braces or forever look like a beaver. That was the incentive I needed. I quit cold turkey. The worst flashbacks and slip-ups occurred watching Disney’s animated Robin Hood, because the wimpy lion of a Prince John sucks his thumb, and he makes it look soooooooo comforting. I improved on his technique though improvising on my own: when I sucked my thumb I would also curve my index finger around the tip of my nose and pet it. And zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………

[2] All these books meant so much to me that when I was in college, I went out and rebought the entire collection. Ahem, yes, a certain parent was socially responsible and into educating other children so donated the majority of my childhood stuff as it was deemed too young for me.

On September 1, 2021, the NBP posted “Non-Binary Tennis.” Search Results for “Non-Binary Tennis” – AJ’s Dad (ajsdad.blog). On October 8, AJ posted “Toy Retreat.” Search Results for “Toy Retreat” – AJ’s Dad (ajsdad.blog.)  They are worth reading.

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