I was just re-reading my post on planting the seeds of tradition and thought a nice spin-off post was needed.
I've been doing more and more reading about Waldorf approaches to childhood. They are big into simple and ceremonies. Part of simplicity is embracing nature and natural materials and going for authentic experiences. So they're big on marking celebrations with candles. After the experience celebrating the winter solstice with the candles the boys got to where they wanted to light a candle each evening that lived on the dining room table. They loved it!
I had read about a bedtime ritual that embraced lighting a special bedtime candle and was intrigued by the idea. But couldn't quite play out a scenario in my head where i'd be in the room with both boys that didn't end with them fighting over the candle leaving us all out on the curb, homeless.
But really. I shouldn't have sold them short. I decided to try it one night and here's how we do it in detail in case someone else is wondering how on earth this could work with two kids.
They have to be in bed with all requests already submitted (in writing, in triplicate). If you ask for more water or another book after the candle is lit we don't do the candle the next night. You have to be in your own bed and "settled down." This is a completely subjective call by me.
I light a small candle, kneel in the space between their two beds and we sing a few quiet songs. I'm not musical nor good at remembering the words to things so right now we sing "rock a bye baby," "twinkle twinkle" and then a song called "thank you" sung to the tune of Happy Birthday in which we take turns thanking people for all the good/helpful stuff that happened during the day.
Then we all blow out the candle together and i depart.
They truly love the candle and there is a reverence that comes over them in the presence of fire that i didn't expect. But what makes this account different from all the waldorf "inspirational" reading i do is this truthful account of the "other details." In my house there are nights that immediately after blowing out the candle Silas jumps out of bed and demands water or jumps into Henry's bed and starts yelling "wrest-a-ling, wrest-a-ling," or generally shows that he is not planning on sleeping anytime soon.
Basically sometimes the candle works magic and sometimes it doesn't. And sometimes we don't have time for a book and a candle. So this act hasn't transformed my house into a peaceful beautiful night-time tableau, but it is another way of connecting with the boys and something that they love and that we use as incentive and a way to ground us at night. And i try to think we're laying seeds for when Silas is no longer 2.