Imagine the scene:
You are staying at your parents'. The children were in bed hours ago and are sound asleep, probably with arms flung above heads and covers wrunkled round feet. You've had a pleasant meal, maybe a glass of wine, definitely a splendid pudding, and you're off to bed. You say goodnight and head upstairs with your best beloved.
You creep into the children's rooms, tucking them in and kissing each of them, relishing that sleepy baby breathing. You clean your teeth, wash your face, climb into bed and do whatever it is the pair of you do next (in my case, whinge about being uncomfortable, read a couple of pages of a book and warm my feet on the back of his legs (he loves that, by the way)), before turning the light off and settling down to sleep.
The door creaks open, light spills in from the hallway. In creeps your mum. She leans over the bed and gives you a gentle kiss on the forehead, brushing your hair out of your eyes. "Night, night, darling. I love you. I'll see you in the morning".
Because funnily enough neither of my parents comes in to give me a goodnight kiss any more. I'd find it more than a little odd if they did.
But when did they stop? Because the goodnight kiss, the sleepy baby, the hunt for the lost Bunny in the darkened room, the tucking in of the tiny hands are all an essential part of my bedtime routine. I would be significantly more likely to go to bed without cleaning my teeth than I would without kissing my children.
But mine are (nearly) 4 and 2. So I can do that. They go to bed before me. They are asleep. They expect me to creep in, to tuck, to stroke, to kiss. And I know that I won't when they are 24 and 22. But what about when they are 14 and 12? Will they then be too cool? Too awake? Too grumpy?
When does it stop? When is the last kiss goodnight? How long have I got? Will I recognise it when it comes? Because I'm going to miss it when it's gone and I want to savour it until it is.