Bedtime for a hummingbird.
June 29, 2011

When I drop her in the bed, she whimpers, fusses, cries.  NOOOO!, she exclaims.  She twists onto her belly in protest, pushes me away.  Sweetheart, I coo.  It’s okay.  We’re just lying down.  NO SLEEPING ALLOWED!, I tell her.

She giggles.  This always makes her giggle.  I repeat it, over and over, pointing my finger at her and pretending to cluck.  There will be no sleeping in this bed!  No sleeping here, no sirree!

Then I lie down beside her.  I tuck her hair behind her ear.  What song would you like?, I ask.  She picks “All the Pretty Horses” first.  Then “The Sugar-Plum Tree” and “Mister Sun” and “Froggie Goes a Courting” and “Five Little Dragons” and “Baby Mine.”

With every lullaby, her eyes are heavier.  Her breaths are deeper.  When I stop singing, she protests.  STOH-WEE!, she begs.

I tell her the story about the hummingbird.  Once upon a time, I tell her, there was a forest.  It was home to many animals and they lived in harmony.  One day, the forest caught fire.  The flames were fast and fierce and the animals fled.  When they reached the edge of the forest, all of the animals looked back and watched horrified as the flames devoured their entire world.

All of the animals, that is, except for the hummingbird.  The hummingbird rushed to the pond and picked up a single drop of water and then flitted to the forest and dropped the drop of water over the fire.  Over and over the hummingbird did this, while the other animals did nothing.  “What are you doing?” the animals asked the hummingbird.  “You are so small!  One drop of water cannot extinguish this great fire!”

“I am,” the hummingbird responded, “doing the very best I can.”

While the words pour from my mouth, I remember the first time I heard this story.  I remember listening enraptured to Wangari Maathai and believing, if only for a minute, that anything were possible.  As I finish the story, I lean in to my child.  I brush my eyelashes against her cheek, press my lips against her forehead.

Dream big, I whisper to her in the dark while she slumbers.  Or dream small.  Just dream, my hummingbird, dream anything.  Anything at all.


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  1. By Thrifty Vintage Kitten on June 29, 2011

    Man, you know how to make a mother tear up! Love your blog posts. :)

  2. By Alicia S. on June 29, 2011

    I am so stealing this story at bedtime tonight ... :-)

  3. By lceel on June 29, 2011

    Listen, my child, and I’ll tell you a rhyme,
    of long ago places and a far away time,
    a poem of Princes, and wizards, and Kings,
    who fought mighty dragons and wore magic rings,
    and ruled with an iron hand.

    Listen, my child, and then, off to sleep,
    and, as you lie in slumber deep,
    dream dreams of the tale I tell to you,
    If you dream hard enough, they may come true,
    and wouldn’t that be grand?

    Listen, my child, as I tell you my tale,
    of Knights Errant, in shining mail,
    But Alas! I guess my rhymes will keep,
    for I see you are already asleep.

    Good night, my child,
    Sweet dreams, my child,
    of your own.


    (I thought you might like this.  I wrote this for mine.)

  4. By Bethany on June 29, 2011

    Tears and chills. Thank you for sharing this story!

  5. By elizabeth Mackey on June 29, 2011

    HI there,

    Not sure if you saw my comment on your last post, but you won my giveaway, and I would love to send it out to you. e-mail me your info

    Love the story!
    Charlotte is living a pretty darn magical childhood, with such great parents as yourselves!!

  6. By on June 29, 2011

    I love this.

  7. By Wendy Irene on June 29, 2011

    beautiful :)  Will vote!  Have a lovely day

  8. By Olivia on June 29, 2011

    What a beautiful post, made me tear up!  That photo is amazing, what a sweet and precious baby!

  9. By Tara on June 29, 2011

    Oh, what a beautiful little story. I will definitely be using this in the future.

  10. By Tracy Roberts on June 29, 2011

    the sugar plum tree has a tune?

  11. By Dandy on June 29, 2011

    That is just the sweetest story and it made me choke up.

    Oddly I had 3 different blog posts in my feed with hummingbird in the title.  Hummingbird cake and this one that I thought you might like.

    http://jonathanandmelanie.blogspot.com/2011/06/rescued-baby-hummingbird.html

  12. By Sarah Christensen on June 29, 2011

    Tracy - I made one up!  I couldn’t remember the poem on its own, so I started singing it to remember the words - and now she hums the tune when she wants me to sing it for her =)

    Dandy - The hummingbirds are taking over the world!

    Elizabeth - Wow, that’s awesome!  I’ll shoot you an e-mail tomorrow morning =)  Thank you so much!

  13. By Penny S on June 30, 2011

    I adore this story!  Simple and sweet.

  14. By Kimommy on June 30, 2011

    Lovely. Thanks for the story.


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