Monday, August 10, 2009

The Losing of the Nap

First off, let me be clear that this is not a picture of my child sleeping. If you knew me at all, you'd have guessed that for two reasons.

A. When my child does nap, I do not sneak in to snap photos of her sleeping. I do not crack the door for any reason whatsoever. I leave the child alone and I try to breathe as quietly as possible in the adjoining room.

B. My kid doesn't nap anymore.

Yes, readers, I am in the tumultuous terrain of the terrible twos, known far and wide (in my apartment) as The Losing of the Nap.

Before you stop me and say, “Whoa now, my kid didn’t drop her nap ‘til she was 4 or 5,” or better yet, “We’re European and my kid is 12 and still naps!” let me rush to qualify that I understand not all children lose the nap as part of the terrible twos. It’s just the particularly ornery ones that do, the ones that you need to sleep more than anything in the world, because it is those two hours of peace that allow you to grab onto the frazzled end of your sanity and make it through the rest of the day. These ornery, defiant, devil-may-care children are precisely the ones that have the nerve to drop their nap well before they no longer need the sleep, creating a total friggin’ mess in the process.

It goes like this:

Between 50-75% of the time, Seconda does not nap, even when I put her to sleep at the appointed time in the appointed place. She just stands in her crib tent, which is zipped tight, and yells or throws things or cries or sings loudly for an hour or two. I get no rest during that time since I am too busy sustaining a coronary. Then I finally let her out of imprisonment, for which she is very grateful and sweet, for exactly 20 seconds,

The moment her feet hit the floor, and freedom is assured, she begins to act like a total, unmitigated little shithead. This may sound mean. In fact, strike that. It does sound mean. It sounds terrible. But what you should take into account is that I am actually being generous because saying she’s a shithead is a tremendous understatement.

My mommy friend, Grace, who has two kids just the same age and Primo and Seconda came over for a playdate yesterday. Sec had opted out of the nap and when Grace and the kids arrived at 4pm, she was not just a hot mess but an atomic mess. While the other children played, she spent about an hour screaming, for a reason no one could understand.

Grace looked pained. She looked CONCERNED. While I ignored my own child’s screaming, she tried to fix whatever was wrong.

“Do you want some water?” Grace asked Seconda.


“Do you want a snack?"


“Do you want to play with the pirate hat?”


My well-intentioned friend, of course, got nowhere/ She could not fix what was wrong because what was wrong was that my daughter didn’t get the rest she needs to maintain her mental health. Her exhaustion makes her a crazy person. And not just her, either.

It’s like my toddler has colic. Can you begin to understand the implications of that? A baby who has colic can, ultimately, be put down for a few minutes and left to cry so that you can take a swig of whisky or whatever you need to do to get back on board. A toddler just follows you around screaming. Toddlers weigh a lot more than newborns and carrying them everywhere will give you a hernia. Toddlers, unlike newborns, will purposefully hit you in the eye and bite you on your arm. Toddlers should never get colic. But mine has it.

Now, between 25-50% of the time (and that’s a precise figure I calculated) Seconda DOES take a nap. What bliss! What rapture! I work, furiously, while Primo watches Noggin. In two hours, she wakes and I am restored, just like Lazarus. It is amazing. And she is in a good mood too, doesn’t have the colic, and we are best friends and snuggle together and I am happy.

Then bedtime approaches. David and I understand that since she’s napped, she probably won’t be quite as tired at 7:30, so bedtime creeps closer to 8:30. At 11pm she is still awake, jumping in her crib and yelling “PRIMO WAKE UP! PRIIIIIIIIIIIMMMMOOOOO!”

David and I have no evening whatsoever. I pass out in my bed, listening to her yell.

But that is not all, folks, That is not even the worst part.

The next morning, she wakes at 5am. Five o’clock in the miserable morning. And if I thought she had colic from missing her nap, she has a raging case of it when she sleeps for only 6 hours.

So. Scylla and Charybdis. Damned in I do and damned if I don’t.

This isn’t exactly what you imagine when you decide to go off your birth control.