Universal understanding

Sometimes, one simple statement is enough to bring total clarity to a fellow mother (or father, for that matter, but I dealt with other moms in this particular case).

Sunday night, Ane was a pill and a half. We had a meeting at church, and she whined all through the potluck dinner (no, she didn’t want the lasagna – then ate a piece and a half), fought with Auntie (who was one of the child care workers for the event – and she should know better by now to not mess with Auntie, even at church, because Auntie has no qualms about giving time-outs anywhere) and got a time-out for her trouble, and between her few moments of sanity (usually acheived by chocolate) was generally a giant pain, who was swinging between violent defiance and abject sobbing.

Almost every mother (or grandmother, in some cases) observed my crying daughter and my seeming indifference to her tears, and immediately wanted to know what was wrong with her. Is she hurt? Why don’t you care about her crying? Does she need another cookie?

I had a short, simple reply to their queries: “She didn’t take a nap today.”

Every single mother froze with instant understanding and empathy. Six words conveyed the information that any mother would comprehend with stark clarity. Nothing more needed to be said. I was offered verbal support, looks of both empathy and pity, and the sigh of I’m-glad-I’m-not-in-your-shoes relief.

Lately, Ane has been trying to shed the last vestige of her toddlerhood and quit napping. Let’s just say that demonstrations like the one she provided on Sunday night proves that she’s not ready to give up that afternoon siesta just yet. I can usually convince her to take a nap when we’re at home right after lunch, but the fight is getting harder and harder when we are out of the house and she falls asleep in the car.

It used to be so easy – just move the sleeping lump of a child into their bed/crib, remove shoes and coat, throw a blankie over them, and pick them up in two hours. Tad, thankfully, still complies with this routine. Now, if Ane falls asleep in the car, I have a 50-50 chance of getting her to continue the nap in her own bed. I can’t count the number of times she has woken up and decided that 20 minutes – or less – of sleep in the car was enough for her, thank you very much, and she would like some juice, a snack, and Lilo & Stitch, now.

At this point, when she decides to stay up, I’ve begun telling her that she does not get juice or any TV. If she’s thirsty, she gets water. She can read books. She can color. I might even let her play with her Play-Doh. But there is no TV.

You can imagine how well this goes over with a nap-deprived, cranky three-year-old.

It’s a good thing other parents understand the whole picture when they hear the words “no nap today.” I have a bad feeling that it may start becoming my stock explanation for Ane. The pushing? No nap. The attitude? No nap. The mildly-Impressionistic-yet-distinctly-disturbed-looking chalk drawing in the driveway? No nap.

Hey, the one up side of no nap – no naptime accidents! Do you know how much laundry she has saved me???

One Response to “Universal understanding”

  1. Little Cousin's Mommy
    April 4th, 2007 05:50

    I consider myself blessed that Little Cousin is such a good napper, and has been since she was quite little. She has her occasional, one-hour nap, but for the most part I get two and a half strong hours out of her.

    Let’s just pray I’m this lucky with all my other kids to come.