Amongst the toothbrushing and washing and chaos of the every night he says to me, "Mummy, I want to lay with Daddy in your bed tonight."
I nod, knowing his little brother will place dibs on lying with me of-course.
He finishes his nightly bathroom routine and I watch as he climbs up onto our high bed and snuggles in with my husband.
Finley and I head into their shared bedroom and he climbs up first as I prepare myself mentally for the anguishing barefoot ascent onto the top bunk. It doesn't happen often because Adrian thinks that the bed will collapse on top of him if I'm in the top bunk but since he's surrounded in the comfort of his father and our duvet there's no worry to be had.
I look forward to my rare night time snuggles with my baby.
We begin with our prayers but he doesn't say them aloud. I watch as he crosses himself once and then pause for a moment, his blue eyes serious and to the ceiling, and then he crosses himself again. Such a solemn, adult gesture it make my heart ache.
He wants me to sing Robin in the Rain and I do. Fitting since the weather is grey and wet.
I switch the words from "you don't mind the weather" to "with your boots of yellow" and he giggles and tells me that I'm so silly.
"Whatsth that sthong? De one with de food?"
"The Kookaburra song?... Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree-ee..."
"No, not dat one."
"Oh! Down By the Bay!"
"Yesth! Down by de bay-ay...where de watermelons grow...back to my home..."
The verses went on...and on...and on...
There were donkeys hanging with monkeys (which I know doesn't technically rhyme but I made them rhyme, oh yes I did). There were dolphins carrying coffins and deer looking in mirrors and a moose riding on goose.
He asked me what Adrian does to my water when he drinks from it. I had to explain what backwashing meant then which is why I freak out if he drinks from my water bottle.
He solemnly swore he would never do that. I believe him.
And then it was time for quiet.
I watched in the grey evening light as his eyes grew heavy. His dark lashes fluttering and finally coming to rest on his four year old cherubic cheeks.
My hand spanned across his chest. His heart beating warm under his dinosaur cotton pj's. I breathed in deeply giving thanks for this moment as I remember a conversation that we had just before bed.
"Buddy, get your jammies on. Come on now - you're not a baby, you can dress yourself. Let's go." Bed time exasperation. Speed it up, speed it up.
"I am your baby."
It's true of-course. As I always tell him. He is my baby.
"Yes, you are my baby. You will always be my baby. Both you and your brother. But your not a baby anymore."
But looking at him, asleep in the darkening night hour, he still looks like a baby to me.
I lean in and kiss his cheek. Once. Twice. Three times. I'm sure he's off in dreamland already but even still I whisper near his ear as always, "I love you baby."
"I love you too." He says in a sweet, sleepy, little boy voice.
I climb down the ladder, wincing as the weight of my feet lies heavy on each rung.
The pain is worth it.