People in our house can find their own pajamas and put them on (some can even do their own laundry!). They can fill their own water bottles and find beloved stuffed animals wedged between a bed frame and a wall. Gone are the days of the last-minute feedings, velcro swaddlers, ninja-style exits from darkened rooms. (Gone, too, are the sweet, sleeping baby noises; the snuggly late-night feedings; the tiny toes . . . )
Only two things still pull our just-tucked-in daughters from their just-warmed-up beds:
a) interpersonal conflict
House fires, volcanoes, giant puppets that eat people: our daughters’ marvelous imaginations—the same ones that fuel their stories and games during daylight hours—sometimes take awhile to power down before bed. That hour when all is quiet and their thoughts hum darkly along can be rough.
Why Do We Say Goodnight?, a sweet story by Champ Thornton (The Radical Book for Kids) and Rommel Ruiz (Golly’s Folly), addresses just this. “Why do we say goodnight,” the young narrator wonders, “when night isn’t good at all?” Her mother gently and patiently tells her that God made the dark as well as the light, and he is with us in it even when we can see him—our Shepherd and Protector.
These are truths I still tell myself when my own imagination turns toward the Dark Side at three in the morning. They are truths I point to when worried daughters drift into the living room after hours.
And right now, as we live in lockdown, I turn to these truths during the daylight hours: God is our Shepherd and Protector, and when we can’t see, he can. We aren’t always surrounded by a literal darkness right now but by the darkness of waiting, which obscures the road ahead and makes us wonder, How long, O Lord? And so this book is an encouragement to me as I read it to my daughters and pray with the story’s narrator:
Please help me, Lord,
to trust in you—
for all you are
and all you do.
Lord, you made night,
and you can see.
You’re the Shepherd
who cares for me.
Why Do We Say Goodnight?
Champ Thornton; Rommel Ruiz (2019)