My Nemesis, My Happiness: The Nap

It’s nap time on a lazy Sunday, and I’m cuddling with Simon in the almost-darkness on our king size bed. I feel tiny hot breaths on my face, still fragrant from lunch, and he stage whispers,

“Mama, Squirrel needs some chickenless nuggets.”

I sigh. While I am pleased that Squirrel appears to be an avowed vegetarian, now is not the time to be discussing the dietary preferences of woodland creatures.

“Baby, we don’t eat food in bed, so Squirrel needs to wait until after nap time, please.”

Like all toddlers, my son is impressively adroit in diversionary tactics–especially during pique moments of adult exhaustion. A sampling:

“Mama, my [almost imperceptibly twisted] sock needs to be fixed.”
“Where’s (Puppy, Bunny, Horsey, etc.)?”
“I need some water. From my red water bottle.”
“I miss Dadoo. Dadoo Dadoo Bo Badoo Banana-Fanna…”
And the coup de grâce: “Mama, I have a poopy.”

I used to respond to each maneuver with an elaborate refutation, but I am no longer a young grasshopper. I now know that the best defense is fake slumber. Usually, this works and his squirmy body stills and I hear soft snoring within minutes. On very rare and traumatic occasions, the contrived poopy turns out to have been the real deal (as we discover 90 minutes later) and we make the evening news: “TODDLER REFUSES NAP. FALLS CHURCH-AREA APARTMENT ON LOCK DOWN. ANTICIPATE METRO CLOSURES.”

We’ve come a long way. Until relatively recently, weekend naps (because of course he naps like a champ during the week at preschool) required a car and Laurie Berkner Lullabies–specifically track 21 on repeat. Kenny and I have developed a rather accurate and descriptive means of front seat sign language and, thanks to these 20-minute joyrides, have explored much of Arlington County and its various scenic byways. When Snowzilla loomed, we thought for sure we were done for.  With the roads anticipated to be impassable for days, how would we lull our tiny insomniac into his REM cycle? Was I to spend these otherwise peaceful, beautiful snow days trying to Pinterest my toddler out of a foul mood? Was Kenny going to conduct every afternoon conference call with a squalling Hydra demanding, “MORE CHEEEEESE!” in the background?

As it turns out, no, because #SuperDad. Kenny ingeniously realized that we could just make a couple laps in our underground (and extremely well-ventilated!) parking lot. I never knew so many of our neighbors are New Yorkers–and it looks like the Prius V is a very popular choice for young families. Discuss.

I’m pretty sure it’s self-explanatory, but for parents of wee babes who fall asleep when you simply look at them or kids old enough to make their own lunches, let me be frank: nap time is critical because it’s MY time. I get to pee by myself, job search, write emails, sit. I get to adult. Nowadays, when I’m not feeling so well, I get to take a nap. On those days when you just can’t read Little Blue Truck one more time, naps are clutch. Plus, naps are important for your child’s developing little brain–and have even been shown to reduce anxiety, increase joy, and facilitate problem-solving.

Also selfishly, naps are the one time I get to listen to the soft, sweet sound of Simon’s slow breathing. I don’t mind singing his two favorite lullabies (“Moon” and “Baby Mine“) as many times as he asks me to, and I cherish those moments when he sings along. I used to twitch at the sound of children singing. I thank my little songbird for making me a softer person.

Nap on, warriors.


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