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The Wind Down Lesson

Teachings of a Child

by Hal Evan Caplan
July 30, 2011

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The Wind Down Lesson

My Child is my teacher and like it or not, I do learn from on a regular basis. Sometimes he makes a point of bringing them to my attention, while other times the lessons are subtle. Either way, he is my teacher.

Now that my teacher is older, he decided that he needed to start doing big boy things, like putting himself to bed as opposed to my wife or me doing it. I am very proud of him because he loves to read in bed before he turns out his light. He reads for about 15 to 30 minutes each night. This is his "quiet time" as he puts it. I refer to it as his wind down period. Either way it's the same thing.

Occasionally, he still asks me to come in his room at bedtime but not to read to him. Upon asking why he wanted me in his room since I was no longer reading to him, his response was just to keep him company. I can understand that, I mean, he just recently made the change.

On his first request, my teacher asked that I lay down on the floor where I would normally read to him. He pointed toward his bookshelf and twirled his figure around as to indicate in some sort of secret-code that I move to that location, and then he said please. He must have noticed the fact that I had not budged until I heard a certain word come out of his mouth. He gave me a quick look and apologized for not initially using the magic word.

I misunderstood his request, because I sat at his book shelf fiddling through the sea of books. I was looking for a specific book to read to him, but could not find it. As I fumbled through the shelves, he asked what I was doing or what I was looking for.

"A book." I Indicated.

"F-o-r what?" He whispered.

"Ummm, to read to you." I revealed.

"Why are you going to read to me?" He asked.

"Isn' that what you wanted?" I replied.

"No." He remarked.

"Wow! I'm totally confused." I expressed.

"Just lay there on the ground and do nothing, please.? He clarified.

"O-o-o-k-k-k-a-a-a-y-y-y." I was happy to indulge since he did say please, and because that location has pillows. Besides lying down at that moment sure sounded like a good idea.

"Ok so do you consider your wind down activity to be reading?" I probed.

"What do you mean by wind down?" He replied.

"Wind down is where a person would use a period of time, usually just before bed, in order to clear their mind from the day's activities and relax." I explained.

"Why do people want to do that?" He inquired.

"Well, let's just say that your day wasn't going that good or lots of things were going wrong and because of that it was a bad day. Would you want to go to bed in a bad mood because of the day that you had?" I explained.

"No." He agreed.

"Doesn't it make sense for people to clear their head from that type of day in order to get a good night sleep?" I remarked.

"Oh yeah, that is a good idea." He added.

"So, I think it is awesome that your wind down period is reading in bed before you go to sleep." I recognized.

"Me too." He grinned.

He sat back and began to read his book quietly to himself. As I laid on the floor I began to relax, well doze off is more like it. There was not a sound coming from within the room (not even a mouse). If I didn't know better, I was sure a cricket chirp would begin to sound at any moment. I drifted into a state of relaxation; out of nowhere my teacher's voice broke the silence and echoed in the room.

"Dad what is your down time thing?" He wondered.

I was a little bummed out with my teacher asking me a question. It wasn't the actual question being asked, but really because I was thoroughly enjoying the peace and quiet. It was a rare opportunity to get the chance to spend time with my teacher at the same time I could sit still with peace and quiet. Most of the time when we are together, it is a mad dash to fit as many activities as possible into one day. I usually tell people that my teacher only knows two speeds; a-thousand-miles-an-hour or asleep. There is no medium speed.

I purposely did not respond immediately hoping he would just go back to reading and the silence would fill the room once again. I could only hope that would be the case, but knowing my teacher as well as I do, I knew that would not happen. It was only a matter of time before he would either continue to ask questions until I would answer or he would climb out of bed and investigate as to why I did not answer in the first place. I held out just a little bit longer.

"Dad, anyone there?"

(Silence)

"Dad?"

I heard the movement in his bed as well as the ruffle of the sheets, a clear indication that he was on his way to investigate the situation more closely. I knew I had to respond quickly because I was not in the mind set to be jumped on by my teacher, and I mean that literally. My goal was to stay in the comfortable position I had been in for some time, so I replied.

"Yes, I'm here." I uttered.

"Okay, anyway, mom says that because you play adult sports, you should stretch." He announced.

"What?"

"Mom said." He enlightened.

"I do stretch before I play sports. I stretch any time before I play anything, actually." I replied.

I thought about his comment and I wasn't really sure why he brought it up. I was not aware that I was about to be smack-dab in the middle of a lesson, yet again. I thought it was a question, but then again, I should have known better.

"Well, since your just lying there, why don't you stretch?" He smirked.

"Why?" I asked. "I'm very relaxed at the moment."

"I have a great idea. Stretching can be your wind down thing before you go to bed." He voiced.

I know I should stretch before any sport, but wow, what a great idea to stretch on a nightly basis.

"I'll start tomorrow. I think it would be best to do before I get so sleepy... and I'm half asleep as it is." I admitted.

"Deal, I'll even do it with you." He responded.

In a nutshell, the lesson that I was reminded of that day was: A daily wind down period is very important for each of us especially for our minds and bodies.

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PO BOOKS BY HAL EVAN CAPLAN
Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke
Published September 28, 2010

A father learns from the wisdom of his toddler.

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