We have a pretty set bedtime ritual with our 3 Mangine kids at night. We start with bedtime prayers. They each say a prayer and then either me or Nick prays for them. Then we go over the "rules." There are three rules in the Mangine house-- things we want our kids to know that will never change. These things will be the same no matter what-- where we are, how we feel, people we are with... these three things never change.
Rule #1- God loves you
Rule #2- Mommy and Daddy love you
Rule #3- God's way is the best way, so we have to obey
Now, I know these TECHNICALLY aren't rules. But that's what the kids call them, so that's what we call them too. Another point to note about the rules, is that Nia has taken it upon herself to add a 4th Rule which is this-- "You'll always have the Holy Spirit." So now the kids usually include that "rule" too. While I do believe the content of her new rule is true, I don't usually include it with the rules because I don't think she really gets what the Holy Spirit is, (heck, I don't really understand the Holy Spirit and I am 32.) Plus, I am afraid of what happens if we start allowing children to add rules. So unless they can come up with another convincing rule that we cannot live without, it's sticking to our original three. (And I am going to include all participants of the Trinity in with rule #1.)
Finally, after the rules, each child gets ONE question or comment. This started because there were always a million last minute requests just before we left the room. Wanting drinks of water, wanting a song or a story, requests to be tucked in.... blah, blah, blah. THIS way, by offering the chance at a comment or question, they can each ask for or mention one thing and then it's over.
From the kids perspective the problem with this strategy is that there is always the chance when you ask a question that the answer will be no. For example, Nico might use his question or comment to ask, "Mom, can I have a drink of water." To which I would lovingly reply-- "Nope, Nia, do you have a question?"
Inevitably, almost every night one of the three children will use their question to ask, "Can you tell me a story?" It's the riskiest question of all because it's the easiest, quickest "no" from Nick or I so they usually spread around which kid actually asks it every night. Nick would claim that I am more likely to tell the kids a story than he is. On the surface, he might be right, I usually do tell a story. Nick, while less likely to agree to tell a story, is incredibly much MORE likely to tell a GOOD story. He comes up with insightful object lessons to pass along to his future generations... My stories all come with the goal of being over in less than 30 seconds and usually go something like this, "Once upon a time there were three kids that needed to go to sleep but they didn't want to unless their mom told them a story. So she did. And then they went to sleep. The end."
I tell you all of this to get to the point of my post-- Nick's "Two Kingdoms" story he told the other day. The only problem is that in explaining our bedtime ritual in such depth, I've run out of time to actually share the story. So I am going to have to leave this post as a cliff-hanger...
I know you're all on the edge of your seats waiting and this is probably causing more anxiety than back in the 80's when you had to wait to figure out who shot JR. That's my goal really, keep you coming back for more. :)
Seriously though, I will try to get to the story later.