Somewhere off in a distant and primitive land, according to legend, lives a creature so mysterious, so frightening, so puzzling that it defies not only logic but all laws of nature. This creature is akin to the yeti or Bigfoot, fantastical enough to inspire the masses to wonder if it actually exists. I would spend my free time searching for the creature to introduce him to my 3-year-old, sending me from Senegal to Sweden, from the Maldives to Montana.
The creature is called The Napping Preschooler. Legend has it that this creature sleeps peacefully, obeying his parents and staying in his room for rest or quiet time on a daily basis. Sad to say, this being is only a parent’s fantasy.
In our house there’s a real creature and he emerges around 1:30 every afternoon. He’s known as The Defiant Preschooler and our nap time struggles with him are quickly becoming legend. This is a child who refuses to take a nap or even rest; a child who suddenly finds a wellspring of energy after lunch; a child who, despite pure exhaustion that EVERYONE can see, hear and feel, pushes himself to stay awake, stay awake, stay awake at all costs.
In fact, as I write this my pride and joy is convulsing on the floor of his bedroom screaming, “I don’t know how long naptime takes!” at the top of his lungs. Children are such joyful beings.
Every afternoon produces a battle royale as we go mano a kiddo and it has become the time of day that my wife and I both loathe. There are books read, promises made to remain in his room and then come the excuses — bathroom breaks, a need for more toys, a demand that we reduce the amount of time for “rest time.” I know what you’re thinking — just let the kid watch a movie or play on the iPad. Sure, we have friends who have chosen that path but it doesn’t work for us. My wife and I spend tons of quality time with our children each day, filling their lives with park visits, museum trips, playdates, learning moments and activities. She and I deserve a break. Ninety minutes of quiet time in his room is not an unreasonable request.
Lately, we’ve begun a reward chart to improve behavior. The results have been mixed, to say the least.
The singular benefit of his recalcitrance is that when he skips a nap he is usually sound asleep by 8:15. However, we are forced to endure a raging madchild between the hours of 5-8 as his tiredness turns our house into an insane asylum.
This is one of those parenting struggles that makes me question whether I’m up to the challenge. However, it also reassures me that at these moments my son needs me more than ever to rein him in and prevent him from becoming a selfish child who learns that by complaining and whining his mother and father will give in to his unreasonable demands. This is the definition of tough love, screaming fit after screaming fit.
And oh, it would be so nice to have a visit from The Napping Preschooler for just a few days.