I refuse to believe that my toddler, with dark circles under his eyes and that hundred-yard stare, doesn’t still need a nap. But, by god, he simply won’t do it most days, no matter how asleep he is halfway through The Gruffalo.
So, we do this dance every day. We do our routine, he crawls into his bed, I shut the door. I hold my breath, and when I don’t hear a peep, I exhale and walk away. Then he starts chatting. Sometimes there are thumps and thuds and a “sprooinnnnng”s of the door stop. I’ll hear the door fly open and slam shut. Then comes the call 20-30 minutes later: “Mom-mee! Naptime SOVER! You want to PLAY! At hoooooome!”
Now, choose your adventure.
A) Ignore him. Hope he goes back for another 20 minutes of “quiet” time and doesn’t wake his baby brother.
B) Give up hope and set him loose.
C) Go check to make sure he isn’t naked or standing on his window sill or covered in baby powder/stickers culled from a stray activity book/shredded pages of your favorite bed time books. Tell him that, no, nap time isn’t yet over, and walk away.
I reserve option (C) for late in the week, when he has woken up early and hasn’t napped for days. This is how I attempt to fight off the scary late afternoon toddler tornado. He usually cries for 3-5 minutes and passes out half-off his bed.
But one day… one day he went back in to talk to himself. “You say nap time over. Mommy say no, nap time snot over. You say mommy, that isn’t very kind.”
He’s right. It’s not very kind to keep him in his room simply to have another quarter hour to myself. (Meaning, 15 more minutes to do laundry or dishes, to take a quick nap or shower, to feed his brother in peace.) I think I try to hang onto it in case his dad doesn’t make it home for bedtime. To keep those wicked hours until bedtime as few as possible.
But! Somedays mom knows best and insisting on the nap pays out for him. Mostly this little incident has me thinking about how impressionable he is. How my actions are processed and evaluated by him. How the things I do as his mother will forever shape his ideas of how people ought to act. How this is the stuff that sticks and forms his memories of his childhood.
This job is hard.