Siri Hustvedt

“Night Lights, Blankets and Lullabies”
Mar 2010

The New York Times “Opinionator”

“Night Lights, Blankets and Lullabies”

I remember a lamp that stood on the floor in the opened doorway to the bedroom where my sister Liv and I slept. My mother put it there every night so the darkness would never be total. This is an old memory and around it are the usual fogs that dim recollection, but the light offered the hope that blackness would not snuff out the visible world entirely during my anxious transition to sleep.

Bedtime rituals for children ease the way to the elsewhere of slumber — teeth brushing and pajamas, the voice of a parent reading, the feel and smell of the old blanket or toy, the nightlight glowing in a corner. For the child bedtime means double separation, not only from wakefulness but also from Mother and Father. I wonder how many glasses of water have been fetched, how many extra stories have been read and lullabies sung, how many small backs and arms and heads have been rubbed in the past week in New York City alone. Read the rest of the post.