Each night from when Harry was a tiny baby, I would sing him a song.  It was the very last thing we’d do; in the dark, tucked up together, and always the same song.  I can’t remember how Dream a Little Dream became our song, but somehow it did, and over 10 years of practice my renditions became gradually more tuneful and confident.

When I was away travelling with work I would always try to ring home at bedtime, and would always sing our song.  I have sung it in congress halls and restaurants, airport lounges and restrooms. Once even in an elevator (mercifully alone).

Once we were driving and the original came on the radio; Harry was astonished; ‘Why is the lady singing OUR SONG?? How does she know it?’.

When Harry had his first sleepover with a schoolfriend at age 7 I assumed we would forego our usual routine, but as I switched off the lights his friend Charlie called out; ‘Do the song! Harry said you always do the song!!’ …and so I did (and on that occasion even earned a round of applause) – and we carried on.

Now Harry is eleven, and we still fit together in his bed, though with little room to spare.  One night after Christmas I brought in a well-thumbed poetry book and chose a poem to read him instead, by candlelight.  As if by magic (because if Christmas and candlelight can’t create magic, what can?) a new tradition was borne, and each night now closes with a poem.

Sometimes I offer choices (‘a funny poem or a love poem?’), sometimes not.  After a long day sometimes you just want someone to choose for you; to know what you need to hear.  Some nights we talk about the poems, at other times just listening to the words is enough.  Once in a while a poem moves Harry so much he wants to talk about it again as soon as he wakes up (like Wild geese by Mary Oliver).  His reviews reveal a wisdom beyond his years; ‘I think the shortest ones are my favourites because they have to cram so much meaning into so few words. I bet they are the hardest ones to write’.

So far we’re loving Ogden Nash, Rudyard Kipling, Wendy Cope and Mary Oliver…but I’d love more suggestions; what’s your favourite poem?  What should we read next?

Have a good week wherever you are and whatever you’re doing – and stay safe and well.