Dear 25 year old Nathan,
Regarding your little girl.
You are going to want to selfishly cut bedtime short every single night. And not for really good reasons either.
You will want to hustle through it so you can watch the Vancouver Canucks. You will be confused later in life by how much you cared about watching every minute of a three hour hockey game. Rest assured Acacia Weselake will always mean more to you than Markus Naslund ever will. Plus he can be PVR’d.
You will often compare yourself with someone you imagine to be a worse dad and thus give yourself permission to cut bedtime short. There is no question your 10 second bedtime prayer is preferable to his night time ritual of hurling empty whisky bottles at the neighbor’s cat. But this shouldn’t be the reason you make “injesusnameamen” one rapid fire word.
Yes, those will be your primary reasons to avoid maximising a time of day when your little girl is yours for the making. They are as stupid in real life as they look here in black and white. So fight against selfish impulse and plop yourself by her bed for a good 20 minutes or so.
Now, what will you do with the 20 minutes?
Read. You will read the entire Chronicles of Narnia to her before she is 4. She wont understand half of it, but she will get to snuggle in close, hear your voice, and you will get to sniff the top of her head.
Do physical things which reassure her of your love for her. Nothing tastes quite like a chubby 3 year old cheek. Make noises like you are pretending to chomp her little ears. Growl like a bear. Why give a goodnight kiss when you can have a “flurry of kisses” that leaves her chortling and squirming?
The time before bed is the perfect time for “tender nonsense”. Tenderness is good. Nonsense is good. But together they create a love bomb. So tickle toes. And then name the little piggy who goes “wee wee wee all the way home” Lenny. Lenny will need a backstory. He has some issues as you might imagine a small toe would. He has difficulty leaving his home of origin. He has small toe syndrome. He is allergic to jam. He has an accent which is difficult to place. You are a dad. This sort of tender nonsense is built in and emerges as soon as you let yourself off the leash a bit.
Then pray. Pray out loud all the good things you want for her and feel for her.
If you do these things consistently, young fella, when she is 16 years old you might still get to sit on the foot of her bed, hear about her day, plant a kiss on her forehead, and say goodnight to Lenny.
If you are especially blessed you’ll hear a “I love you daddy” as you turn out the light and shuffle your tired old carcass down the stairs.