Since my daughter was about two years old (she is now 6) - we have done "kisses and hugs" every time we part. I don't remember how, but somehow this little ritual evolved into four little kisses on each cheek, one big smack on the top of her head, and ending with a big bear hug. Actually - the person leaving is the "kisser" and the person staying is the "kissee" - so if my daughter is heading out somewhere and I'm not going with her she stands on her tiptoes and gives me the kisses - four on each cheek and one on the top of my head. I'm treasuring this ritual, because I know it won't last forever. Even now, when I drop her off at school, she wants me to sneak off and do kisses and hugs around the corner so her friends can't see.
Our bedtime routine is full of little rituals. Sure, we do the regular stuff, like a brushing teeth and a betime story. But each of my kids has added their own little touch to the bedtime routine: Greta likes "fresh water" - not just your average water, mind you - but FRESH water. Finn asks for a "back skatch". If I forget either of these things, I'm sure to hear little feet padding downstairs, asking for water, or a skatch.
When Greta was 3 or so, bedtime also involved a thorough monster check - in the closet, under the bed, even in her bureau drawers. Finn's 3 year old obssession is bugs. Every night before climbing into bed, he scans the walls and the ceiling for the slightest trace of insect life. He's like a hawk - the merest wisp of a spider web must be removed before sleep is possible.
My husband and I have our own quirky rituals, too. They are so familiar to us, I don't really even notice anymore. For example, we never say "good bye" when we are leaving each other. We say "see ya" - it feels more optimistic, I guess - less permanent. And for some reason I've never been able to explain I simply must have my alarm clock set for 6:14am, or 7:14am -- any hour, as long as the last two digits say 14. I'm holding the universe together this way - I'm sure of it.
But I have a favorite ritual. It happens after all the bedtime routines are done, backs are skatched and fresh water is delivered - right before I leave the room and click off the light. My daughter started it - I can't even remember when - and now my son has picked up on it, too. She likes to wish me a "Happy Something", depending on which holiday is coming up. For example, in February she says "Happy Valentine's Day" .. until that holiday has passed, and then "Happy St. Patrick's Day" starts up. She likes it to be the last thing she says before I leave the room - I have to say the same thing back to her, too. Finn figured this out about 7 months ago, between Thanksgiving and Christmas. So they would each say "Merry Christmas, Mom" before I left the room. Finn, however, hasn't quite picked up on the whole progression-of-holidays thing.
So last night Greta said "Happy Fourth of July, Mom", and I wished her a Happy 4th right back.
Then I hear this little sleepy whisper coming from Finn: "Merry Christmas, Momma".
I'd love to hear about some of your rituals, too - what are they?