It’s Friday, and Sophie is taking her first proper nap this week.
Thursday I decided that spending 90 minutes quietly in bed was the same as napping. After many long talks about the importance of naps, after carefully calming soothing her down, she lay down, tossed & turned, read her Argos catalog, asked me for a drink of milk, lay down a little longer, asked me if she could wake up, obediently lay down a little longer, asked me if I could guess where she had hidden her baby doll, lay down a little longer. As long as she stayed cheerful and relatively quiet, that seemed as good as I could get.
But it wasn’t as good as a nap. Afterward, she was cranky, bursting into loud sobs at the slightest provocation. I put her in her bike-seat and we went out, riding past the supermarket, over the railway bridge, across the giant Coldham’s Common, through the little back streets to the library. A block from the library, I realized she had fallen soundly asleep on the back of the bike.
Unfortunately, falling asleep in a bike seat is not as comfortable as falling asleep in a carseat. Her little head was bobbing around so much that her bike helmet actually fell off. The car behind us screeched to a halt, waiting for me to pick up Sophie’s cute pink helmet from the middle of the road. The mother who was driving gave me a smile. She understood. I strapped the helmet back on Sophie’s head, but the helmet fell off again a few blocks later. By the time I finally got back to Coldham’s Common, I parked the bike under a tree, in the shade, watching her in sleep so deep that I could even brush the flies from her face. I tried to lift her out of the bike-seat, to place her down on the grass for a proper nap.
Of course she woke up as soon as I lifted her out of that seat. We biked home, passing a loud train that precluded returning to sleep.
Today it was finally cooler. Today she seemed to accept our new napping routine: after lying down at home doesn’t work, I put her in the sling for a soothing walk, like we did when she was a baby. We walk around our apartment compound, hoping the monotonous view and swaying sling-ride will lull her to sleep. Today it started to rain as we walked, but she had her blankie and a hat, so we just kept walking, singing her favorite lullaby through the pouring cooling rain, as she finally fell asleep. She stayed asleep, mercifully, as I slipped myself out of the sling, laying her down in bed.
If you’re not a parent, you probably don’t understand the drama of this saga. Without a nap, Sophie will be off-balance for hours, bumping her head at the playground, repeatedly, descending into a tantrum if a butterfly flaps its wings wrong. Without a nap, children’s brain development is actually affected. Without those 90 minutes of napping, we get many hours of crankiness, sometimes even days. Without a nap is hell. Thank goodness she’s sleeping today.
Update: she slept for almost four hours. She woke up after two-and-a-half hours, howling, “I want nighty-night! I want sleeeeeeeep!” I soothed her back down. I almost started to worry, she was sleeping so much. When she finally woke up, she couldn’t stop dancing.