Some days, he fights naptime with all his might. He can reach the point at which he’s rubbing his eyes and melting down at the slightest provocation, but still he won’t lay his head down on a pillow and rest. There’s just too much to do and see, too many pictures yet not drawn, too many stories yet untold.
I can sympathize. But I’m not the one whose brain is still developing, and I already have all the degrees I’ve ever wanted, so it doesn’t matter so much that my memory consolidation will be significantly impaired without a middle-of-the-day-break.
Which is to say, naptime is sacred. At least until the age of 5, if I’m to have my way.
Most of the time, he needs it, he feebly objects, he falls asleep. If that doesn’t happen, a short car trip usually is all that’s needed to push him over the edge (thank goodness he’s an easy transfer). Failing that, a stint in the stroller, though then I have to keep on walking until he’s done napping. (I’ll never understand why moving him from the car is no problem, while trying to even slow down when he’s asleep in the stroller instantly wakes him up.)
There comes a time in the life of every parent, however, when all of those stop working or are otherwise unavailable.
Ted had a great time at a raspberry farm today. He spent two hours running up and down our row, tiring himself out (or so I hoped).
When we were done picking, I took him potty and gave him his favorite lunch du jour (peanut butter and raspberry jelly on toasted wholegrain bread), and we got back in the car for a nearly hour-long trip back home. With an empty bladder and a full belly, he was supposed to be out like a candle.
We arrived home with Ted nattering away and singing, and showing no signs of running out of steam. I did herd him into his bed somehow, and he did go quiet for a while. I kept my fingers crossed. (We no longer own a working monitor. Don’t ask. Yes, Ted and his pool were involved.)
"I want out!" he opened the door and shouted down the hall, "Ooooout!"
I came over to the baby gate keeping him contained, and told him his stuffed toys needed rest. He could cuddle them to sleep, or I was going to take them to my bedroom so they could have their nap undisturbed. He didn’t want to part with them, so the door was closed again and again all was silent.
My babysitting job arrived, and I knew all was lost. As soon as he realized there was another toddler in the house, he was going to demand release. And I was going to let him out, because I wasn’t going to have him howl while I entertained another child.
"Mommmmmmmyyyy, I want OOOOUT!"
The mom dropping off her child was still there, so I could quickly run downstairs alone. In a last ditch attempt, I gave Ted a choice:
"You can come upstairs NOW and play, but it’s stroller and errands for the rest of the afternoon. Or you can rest a little, and, LATER, when Susie is gone, we can go to the beach together, just us. I’m going to leave the gate open. You choose."
"NOW - stroller, LATER - beach."
"The gate is open. Come upstairs or go to sleep, the choice is yours."
He burst out into tears and threw himself on the floor, but didn’t move. I had a little girl and her mom waiting, so I left him there. I figured he’d be up in a moment anyway.
The mom left, with Ted still complaining from downstairs. Slowly, his snot-muffled voice inched closer.
"Mommyyy… I want a huuuuggg," he called from the bottom of the stairs, forever a logician. I did say "upstairs,” so he was still within his right to keep the beach an option.
I picked Susie up and downstairs we went. Ted was lying on the floor at the bottom.
"Okay, sweetie. Get in bed."
He picked himself up and bumbled back to his room. I got him in the bed and under the covers. He got his hug while Susie stood by, giggling, and he kept asking for more hugs to see if he could make her jealous. I hugged him until he was giggling, too.
We left. I closed the door, but left the gate open. He slept for two hours straight, and passed on the beach when he woke up. He wanted to go on the swings instead. To which I said, “Whatever you want, honey.”
It’s not every day your 2.5-year-old wins at the game of delayed gratification.