He reads to me while we cuddle in bed tonight. "Oh, look -- these two words have the same letters at the end," I invite. "Th-ink, P-ink," he reads with a smile while adjusting his favorite fleece-footed jammies.
Before saying prayers, we add this week's crumpled Weekly Reader to the book mountain overtaking my nightstand. Afterward, I kiss his soft cheek that somehow seems to grow a little more taut and tough each day.
"I love you to Poodle and back." He envelopes me with his chocolaty eyes as he spoofs "Guess How Much I Love You."
"You see, 'Uth' is over here (he points) and Poodle is waaaaaaay over here (he travels across the room to indicate distance). It's the farthest planet and that's a long way from us on 'Uth.' That's how much I love you, Mommy."
I love it. I compliment it at school and treasure it at home.
I'm awestruck that he loves me enough to compare his feelings to something as infinite as space. Again and again he amazes me with his charm, his candor, his connections.
"I love you even more."
And with that send-off, we creep down the carpeted hallway and into his bedroom for the last part of his bedtime routine: tuck-in.