It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Foiled by Biology

“Okay, guys. Naptime!”

“Not me!” says Gwynn. She has said this every day for the last three weeks. Every day, she denies that naptime applies to her just-turned-two self, and every day I say, “Yes, you, silly,” and escort her to bed. Where she falls asleep. Every day.

Today I take a different approach. After I have put the babies down in their cribs, I return to the kitchen, where Gwynn sleeps on a low to the floor toddler cot. She is sitting on it, playing with a small toy. Her pillow is at one end, her sheet folded neatly at the other.

I stand beside the cot, so she has to look up, waaaaay up, to see me. “So, Gwynn. You think you don’t need a nap?”

That catches her attention. I haven’t spoken in a challenging or derisive way.

Note: I am never sarcastic with the kids. In my own head, I’m often ironic, but that’s in my own head. Once in a while I say something wry that I know will go shooting wildly right over their heads, just for my personal entertainment. But sarcasm? Sneering? Mean-spirited humour? Nope. I feel very strongly that using sarcasm with a small child is simply unkind. They don’t understand sarcasm. It confuses them. They certainly understand the emotion behind it is negative, but they are not yet cognitively capable of processing that kind of duality. Besides, it’s just mean.

So when I ask that question, I am playing it straight. I am confirming that she thinks naps are unnecessary. That is not all I am doing, but Gwynn doesn’t know that… and doesn’t need to.

From her seat at the edge of the cot, she tips her head waaaay back to look at me. “No. I don’t want a nap.” Now, any adult knows that ‘want’ and ‘need’ are two quite different things. Gwynn doesn’t want a nap, no, but I am quite convinced that she still needs one. Gwynn makes no such distinction, of course. She doesn’t want one. She doesn’t want one, and that’s that. ‘Need’ is irrelevant. She, however, is pleased to be having this conversation. Maybe Mary is finally going to be reasonable about this whole nap thing!!

“Well, here’s what I was thinking,” I begin. Gwynn, finding this head-tipping thing a bit awkward, lies back with her head on her pillow to better see me. “What I was thinking was that, since you are a Big Girl now, maybe you don’t need a nap. So here’s what we’ll do.”

Gwynn’s eyes are riveted on mine. Big Girl? No nap? This is all very hopeful! She lies very still, hanging on my every word.

“What we’ll do, from now on, is, instead of naptime, you will have quiet time. You can have a toy or a book. You don’t have to sleep, but you do have to stay on your cot. You can play quietly. Does that sound good?”

She nods. She blinks. I keep talking, quietly, steadily.

Hypnotically.

“You can stay awake and play quietly. You can go to sleep if you want. You just have to stay on the coat. You have to stay on the cot. You have to use your quiet time voice. But you don’t have to sleep. So long as you have a quiet time, I don’t mind if you stay awake. It will be all right. You can just have a rest. You can rest and play quietly and not get up and just be calm and …”

Aaaaaand that’s it. Gwynn is out for the count.

The spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. Naptime reins.

Mwah-ha.

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October 28, 2014 - Posted by | sleep | , ,

4 Comments »

  1. Mwah-ha-ha-ha indeed. You have awesome superpowers. Nice to see you back, by the way – I love your writing.

    Comment by KateR | October 28, 2014 | Reply

  2. lol, I like this! x

    Comment by jenny | October 30, 2014 | Reply

  3. Very Mary Poppins of you! The ol’stay awake reverse psychology. Well done. If you, or any of your readers, need help with a bed time routine we’ve written a post about it here – http://blog.childrenofamerica.com/?p=367 πŸ™‚

    Comment by Children Of America | July 24, 2015 | Reply

  4. I will have to try this with my children. I have a four year old boy who is always insisting he doesn’t need a nap. He is loud obnoxious and I am getting to the point I dread when it is nap time. However, maybe I will take you approach and see if it will work on him. I have always had the rule that if you lay down quietly for 20 to 30 minutes you can get up and play, but for some reason none of them can hold on this long. Obviously they are kids, but I can always hope. Thanks for the tip and I plan on trying it next week.

    Comment by kathleencornelldaycare | December 28, 2016 | Reply


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