I’m afraid to admit it, but I think my son’s daily afternoon nap is going the way of the dinosaurs. Extinct. Finished. Done. No more. Kaput.
I thought I would have another six months, a year, maybe even longer before Wolfy refused to sleep during the day. I’ve been told that I never napped as a young child, but that was my mother’s fault. At least this is what I always secretly thought. I figured that my mother didn’t try hard enough to get me to sleep. She simply must not have minded parenting me all day every day. Because if only she had been more persistent, I’m sure I would have succumbed to naps well into my third or fourth year of life. Now I’m finally seeing what she was up against. It’s not pretty.
Getting a toddler to sleep is not for the faint of heart.
For a while, I was able to get him to nap during the day by bringing him upstairs and reading him several stories. Then I would basically put him into a choke hold and wait until he stopped squirming. Sometimes I could distract him from the fact that I was trying to get him to sleep by telling him that an airplane was flying over the house or a train was going by and that he couldn’t hear it because he was crying. Those were the good days. I miss them terribly.
Currently, in order to get Wolfy to take a nap, I have to load him into the car and drive around until he falls asleep. It’s truly embarrassing how much fossil fuel we waste and how many miles we are putting on our car for this purpose. But can you really put a price tag on your sanity? It’s not like we simply strap Wolfy into his car seat and he passes out. No, that would be too easy.
My little back seat driver is wide awake long after he gets into the car. How else would he be able to tell me to slow down, put both hands on the wheel, and stop at the stoplight? After all, if he falls asleep, he knows he might miss a school bus, an excavator, or a dump truck going by. He’s even started telling me where he wants to go: to the grocery store to ride the truck cart, to the mall to ride the little school bus, to school to play on the playground. No kid, you are not going anywhere fun. You are going to sleep. You are going to sleep right now!
What will I do with myself when this tactic stops working?
The car ride is the final trick in a very deep bag of tricks and I have played them all. If Wolfy stops napping, I am pretty sure that whatever is left of my sanity will slowly erode. I will stop brushing my hair. My language will become intelligible mush. I will wear the same clothes every day. Okay, so most of those things are already happening, but it’s about to get much worse. If Wolfy stops napping, how will I sneak bites of chocolate? Waste time on Facebook? Write this damn blog?
Today I drove into town and then back and forth on Main Street until I saw the blessed sight of Wolfy’s eyes glazing over and then his sweet head tipping forward and his eyes peacefully closing. I drove back up to my house in a state of elation, fantasizing about my hour alone and how best to spend it.
As I drove into the driveway, I slowly turned the radio down, eased the car into a parking spot, and cut the ignition. As I got out of the driver’s side, I was careful not to slam my car door. Then I opened Wolfy’s door and gingerly unbuckled his car seat. I threaded his limp hands through the car seat straps and lifted him oh-so-gently onto my shoulder. With the grace of a ballerina, I tiptoed inside and laid him on the couch. It was beautiful. He flipped onto his stomach, as he often does, and I went to cover him with a blanket. But before I could cover him up, he snapped awake. “Where is my big police car?” he asked, picking up a conversation we were having before we left the house.
Okay, Wolfy, you may have won this round.
But I am redoubling my efforts tomorrow and you will take a nap if it’s the last thing I do. I will not and cannot admit defeat.