She’s a woman now
Soon she’ll be a teen
But for now
At least at bedtime
She’s still my little girl
Still insists I tuck her in
And recite my half of her story;
My half stays the same
While hers changes nightly.
This routine is always the same
And if it’s not
It’s just not right
There is a satisfaction
In the ordinary
When repeated without fail
An expectation fulfilled

As a girl sleeping over
At my grandparents’ one bedroom place
There was a similar routine:
Wash your face and hands
Kneel next to the pull-out sleeper sofa
Recite our prayer:

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the lord my soul to take
God bless…

And then I would list off
All my family
Everyone I loved
Probably all my pets at home, too.

I’m not allowed to look at her phone
Too many secrets there
I presume
But at night
Before turning out the light
I still get to tuck her in
Kiss her cheek
Turn out the light

Be the last to say

I love you.

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