After an early workout with a friend, a stop at the world’s best coffee shop for beans to take home, and dropping off my car with the mechanic at 7 am, I found myself walking home through my lovely neighborhood in the early hours of this morning, alone with my thoughts.
I’m not sure why I was thinking so clearly – perhaps some combination of the elliptical machine and the scent of great coffee – but it suddenly occurred to me that Lyle will be starting afternoon preschool in a couple weeks and also that, um, he still naps. Every day. For at least two hours. The thing is, when I signed him up for afternoon preschool, he was rarely napping on the days when I was home with him (because parting really is such sweet sorrow – and napping=parting from Mommy), and we were managing. And I knew that in just one more year, he’d be in full-day kindergarten, and so, being adjusted to getting out of school at 3:30 seemed like a good idea. That and it was the best fit for him for reasons having to do with the actual class. (Did you get all that?)
Except that this summer, when there was no more preschool in the mornings (which left him missing me and refusing to nap when we got home) and tons of phsyical activity all day, he started napping regularly again. Which brings me to today, when I had a boy napping beautifully just in time for afternoon preschool. Doh.
Therefore, when I walked into the house ten minutes later, I announced to Lyle that starting today, he could choose if he napped or not since school would be starting soon and he wouldn’t nap on school days (M-Th). He was beyond thrilled. “Because I’m almost four?!” he exclaimed. I went along with that, even though his 7-year old brother will still nap on occasion. But, sure, yes, because he’s almost four. Why not?
The thing is, I’m not sure I would’ve gone cold turkey on this today – although I have a parenting pattern of doing things cold turkey and it’s always worked before, I suppose – had I thought through all that we’d be doing this morning. I mean, suggesting a child stop napping on the day you take him on a major city adventure that involves a lot of walking (the stroller is long gone over here), more than an hour and a half total on the train, and an exciting visit to Daddy’s office and Millennium Park downtown? Followed by an afternoon play date with a pair of high energy, fun-loving 3rd grade twin girls? Well, it might seem a bit unwise.
Somehow it worked. He was so thrilled to be awake and having “quiet time” instead of a nap that he was exceedingly quiet and calm for most of the hour that I imposed on the boys. In fact – and the irony of this is not lost on me – I fell asleep. After the workout and the long trip downtown, I was toast. It’s fair to say that I have napped as often this summer as Lyle has not napped, which is to say never.
And so, here we are, suddenly without a nap. I am pleased to report that although the hours of 3-5 were downright ugly, bedtime was very early and very easy tonight, and I expect this new pattern to make a big difference in our evenings around here.
My history of going cold turkey on changes has a real benefit: I rarely know when I’m experiencing “the last” of something. I didn’t know when it was the last time either of my kids slept in their cribs, nor the last time they nursed, for example, and this takes some of that bittersweet edge off of parenting. I might have moped through Lyle’s last regular nap, had I known, but instead I simply appreciated the change today.
I just hope he sleeps later in the morning, too, and isn’t a wreck all day tomorrow. Because it’s quite possible that our nanny will wish she had gotten some warning.