Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Moment of Silence

Let’s pause here for a moment of silence, to formally acknowledge the sad reality that Lucia no longer naps. I have been in denial about this for a few months now. Granted, she’d always give me a thread of hope—maybe once a week, maybe every ten days, she’d actually go to sleep when I put her into her crib at naptime. When she wasn’t sleeping, she was singing (or yell/singing), or lassoing her Bibi at the doorknob to pull open the door. It was getting a little ridiculous. Finally, last week, she refused to get into her crib at all, declaring that she’d have her naptime on the floor instead. My veins filled with ice. I gave an inward, Munch-like scream. Calmly, I gathered a pillow for her, told her it was quiet time, and said she had to be quiet and stay in her room.

And so au revoir, Lucia’s Naptime. Lucia was never a spectacular napper even in her younger days; the very best nap-periods we ever had were maybe an hour and a half tops. Still, it was quiet. I could still my mind. I needed—and need—it even more now with two kids. If I don’t have at least one child-free hour during the day, by dinnertime I feel like an egg that has been shaken so violently that it has become solid. I need that hour, for the mental health of me and everyone around me.

And so begins Lucia’s Quiet Time. The first day, she crept several times out of her room, down the hallway, and into my office, where she peered silently around the door until I noticed her and then stage-whispered, “Mama, can I have something else to play with?” When I decided she’d had long enough for one day, I opened my office door—and found her sitting in the hallway outside Greta’s door, her Bibi spread on the floor with an elaborate arrangement of toys on top of it (she calls this a “setup”). Still, she was quiet.

The next couple of days, with a few new Quiet Time toys to engage with, she actually did stay in her room, quiet as a mouse. To discourage her from seeking me out, I went downstairs instead of staying in my office. I heard things spilling out of boxes and baskets, but she did not make noise, and she did not try to come downstairs. After an hour, I retrieved her, praised her elaborately, and gave her a lollipop. (I’ll give her a chocolate sundae if it gets me my hour.)

So. So far, so good. Yesterday and today, she actually asked repeatedly if she could go have her quiet time—she really likes her Quiet Time toys. (Yesterday I gave her an empty egg carton and a bagful of small, soft craft pom-poms I bought at a church sale for pennies. She was thrilled.) Lucia is, at heart, a rule follower, and a lover of rituals. As long as I keep the Quiet Time toys fresh and exciting, which won't be hard since I have bags of stuff in the attic I bought this summer at church and yard sales, I think we’ll make this transition work. Fingers are crossed.

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