She tried to trick us. She thought we wouldn't find out. But she is not as sneaky as we are. Did she honestly think she could get away with it, that we wouldn't notice, that we wouldn't eventually catch her in the act?
Ainsley has been sneaking out of bed at night....
...to read "just one more chapter" of her Junie B. Jones books.
Our ritual during most of her kindergarten year has been for Jason to read her a chapter from a Junie B. Jones book each night before lights-out. Her kindergarten teacher introduced these little gems to the kids and Ainsley has fallen in love with them (for the unitiated, Junie is a kindergartner who stars in a very popular series of beginning-reader chapter books that have become the first chapter books most kids read on their own, and also favorite read-alouds for the primary set.) She almost always asks for one more chapter, but we stick to the routine so our little morning grouch can get enough sleep to act like something besides a cave creature when her alarm goes off. Ainsley has become a pretty good little reader this school year, but when Jason has asked her to read a chapter to him she always balks. She prefers her daddy's read-alouds. Or so she had us believe.
Thursday night, the night before her last day of school, we rushed more than usual to get her to bed. She had her class picnic the next day, and things were hectic as I tried to ready her cooler full of treats, pack her school bag with play clothes for after her "graduation" mass, and get my own act together for my own last day with students. Her dad read one chapter, we both kissed her goodnight, and I turned out the light.
Thirty seconds later, it occurred to me that I forgot to dry her hair. If you read my post about what that kid looks like in the morning even with careful night-time grooming, you know why going to bed with damp hair is not such a good idea.
I opened her door and in the dusky evening light saw right away that she wasn't in her bed. My mouth dropped open...what the hell? Where could she have gone?
Then I spotted her.
She was crouched so low beside the little bookcase in her room that I hadn't seen her. She had her latest Junie B. read-aloud in her hand, and a look on her face that said, "I am sooooo busted."
"What are you doing out of bed?"
"I was going to read just one more chapter."
"Do you do this a lot? Get out of bed to read after mommy and daddy turn out the light?"
Her mouth said, "No," but her guilty look said, "Just a few other times when daddy finishes a chapter with a cliff-hanger."
And then I was torn. She's not supposed to get out of bed and roam after lights-out, and I haven't caught her doing that since kindergarten started (the school day wears her out so much that usually, if I have to go into her room for something mere minutes after bedtime, she's already out cold.) But can I really punish a kid who is sneaking out of bed to read? Isn't that every parent's dream, really? (Well, maybe just every librarian parent's dream.)
I dried her hair, and told her that someday she would be reading all to herself and that when she's a little older it will be perfectly okay for her to read herself to sleep, but that for now she really needed to stay in bed and let her body and brain get some rest so that she's not so tired in the mornings. And then I reminded her that this was the last night she had to go to bed early for a loooong time and that there would be a lot of Junie B. Jones books this summer and that daddy could read more than one chapter sometimes.
She seemed to get it. And now that we know she can read and wants to read these books independently, she and Jason take turns during read-aloud time now, with them reading alternate pages to each other. Not surprisingly, she does really well and almost seems to have parts of the books memorized.
Since our discovery, I've smiled a little each night as I've left her room. I can't help but wonder if she is snatching books and running back to bed to snuggle under the covers and read before the last of the summer twilight glow fades from her window. If she does, that's one more trait that found its way into her DNA from my own covert reader genes. I myself am guilty of the "just one more chapter" pitfall; there have been a lot of mornings in my life that I have spent recovering from a book hangover.
And just think: she still has Harry Potter to look forward to.
Let the sleepless nights begin!