February 21, 2002 - Thursday
Every night as I leave Harry at night I tell him three things. Actually, lately there's been a fourth and that's "no running around." We don't adhere to that very strictly and as long as he's reasonably quiet about it, we tend to let it go. Often times I'll even say it as a little bit of a joke in a lighthearted tone; an audible wink and smile, if you will. I will be a lot more serious if Harry has been particularly ill-behaved right before going to bed and, on bad nights, I sometimes even wait outside his door for the almost inevitable patter of his feet, using it as an opportunity to reinforce that he's been a little too wild and it wasn't right.
But, aside from discipline, or perhaps especially because of it, the three things I always say are that I love him, "goodnight Harry", and that I'll see him in the morning. I've been working, just a little, on encouraging him to return the "goodnight" and he's started to do that more regularly and that's nice. The "I love you" or more specifically, "daddy loves you very much" is something I heard his mother say one night as she left him. It seemed like bedtime was a good time to reinforce that, especially now that we're seemingly angry with him so much more often. Originally, I'd just say, "daddy loves you very much Harry," and leave it at that. But, some time a few weeks ago I started making a bigger deal out of it saying something first like "do you know what, Harry?" or "listen Harry, this is very important" and then adding a dramatic pause for effect. Harry seems to get a kick out of that and now clearly knows what's coming, often pretending to bury his face in the pillow to avoid the inevitable kiss from a parent that will follow.
And, tonight with never any encouragement from me, after I said "daddy loves you," Harry giggled and said with his face half buried "loves you." Now, I don't really know whether that meant "and Harry loves you, daddy," following the emerging pattern of "goodnight, Harry," "goodnight, daddy," or whether Harry was reiterating the original sentiment of "daddy loves me" (Harry often says "you" went he means "me"), but it hardly matters. What is more important is that he understand, at least at some level, that there was love there and that love is good.