The Web of Love

The web of love is one of my favourite activities for the end of the day. My two year old is pretty feisty and it really takes something to calm her down when she’s finally lying down in bed. We removed her cot recently and she’s still adapting to the new found freedom of a junior bed. She can easily get up and fall prey to the temptations of books and toys so I need to do something which can gradually relax her while occupying her attention.

She often asks for us to read books and sing songs, something my wife is happy to do although I’m a little more reluctant, I like to tell her stories when I’m in the mood… it keeps me interested and the opportunity to embed ideas into the experiences of the day, or whatever inspires me in the moment, makes for a mutually pleasing experience. Also, I can tailor the story to any issues we’re dealing with or current themes… and all the while managing the tone in a way which is appropriate to the moment. I find that reading books often engenders a particular rhythm or pace which doesn’t quite meet us where we’re at.

Something I started to do with my older children is to spin a complex web of love around them and I’m really enjoying doing this with my younger one, now that I’ve rediscovered this little piece of magic.

How to Spin a Web of Love

It’s all very simple. One by one, I go around all the family connections they have, starting with Mama and Papa, brothers and sisters, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles… then radiating outwards through all the friends and other people I know. I talk about what they might be doing, where they are and what they think of the little one I’m trying to get to sleep.

In hushed tones, ever quieter it goes…

Mama loves you…
Papa loves you…
Millie, your sister loves you…
Mark, your brother loves you…

Depending on the day… the descriptions can become quite detailed… others it’s very brief and simplistic like the example above.

A multi-purpose moment

Stumbling onto this simple exercise was a real gift and seems to bring all sorts of benefits as well as providing a relaxation meditation to round off the day. Not only does this loose framework allow me to improvise in a way which is absolutely fitting to the atmosphere of that particular day… I can picture my little girl forming an image of an expanding network of interconnections, radiating outwards from her bed. As I pass though the names of all the people who know her and love her, she has a moment to feel the warmth and tenderness which these people send them day by day, in their thoughts, even if they don’t get to see each other very often. As I mention people by name, I can see her eyes darting around and picturing them there, join us in the web of love. Very quickly, a community of dear friends and doting family seem to join us in the bedroom, watching over our child as she falls asleep… drifting off with the presence of her favourite people called into her room to keep watch. Sometimes she can picture them in their different locations, spread out across hundreds and thousands of miles. Sometimes I mention particular photos or moments so that we can picture their smiles, or their songs, or their helmets… (random)… or whatever she’s associated them with in her mind.

Perhaps it’s a reflection of my own rampant imagination… but as I draw to a close, quietly exiting the bedroom… I get the sense that I’m leaving my daughter in the company of all her nearest and dearest, with all the connecting fibres of her community, wrapping her like a cocoon, meaning I can go, safe in the knowledge that she’s safely settled at the heart of her family’s web of love.

The Web of Love - a picture of a spider's web