I used to deny it. “No,” I would say. “Our kid can handle a little lost sleep now and again.”
This was, of course, before I was tossed from the idyllic shores of the perfect little parenting island of my imagination into the tempest that is reality. And in reality, a small child doesn’t care that her parents may have other things they’d like to do in a day which don’t necessarily revolve around nap time. A small child may even pretend that she’d rather go on building sand castles, splashing in rivers, and doing other things small children do on long summer afternoons. But believing a small child when she tells you she doesn’t need a nap is as foolhardy as convincing yourself that whatever you have going on is more important than nap time.
I learned this lesson at Bluegrass this year. Planet Bluegrass had the audacity to schedule Yonder Mountain String Band smack in the middle of nap time.
“No problem,” I said. “My kid can skip a nap.”
I had at least convinced myself of this, since believing so would mean that my day would evolve as I had hoped it would. I had never actually tested this theory.
Elle was wilting like a daisy clutched in a toddler’s hand on a hot day as Yonder took the stage, but I was prepared to pull out all the stops on this, our first day without a nap.
“Who wants ice cream?”
Elle perked up at the mention of sugary treats, and so we set out hand-in-hand through the crowd.
It is about as easy to coax a tired two-year-old from point A (shade tent) to point B (ice cream tent) as it is to coax a lazy and stubborn dog into a bathtub (I say this from experience, since I have one of those too.) Alas, our journey through Saturday-Yonder-Bluegrass crowd seemed as arduous as climbing the final hundred feet of bootpack atop Palmyra Peak on a windy day.
“Elle, grab my hand!” Swoosh, a whirlwind of dancing girls in twirling skirts flashed by. “Come this way, you can do it!” I felt like I was shouting into a wind tunnel.
“We’re almost there!” Just a sea of tie-dye-shirted people balancing the gravitational needs of plastic cups of beer and killer flank steak sandwiches stood between Elle and me and the ice cream stand.
A now very wilted Elle and I finally arrived, only to find a long line of equally over-stimulated children and their still-hopeful parents. If only there were an emergency ice cream lane for the likes of us, I thought, as Elle yanked insistently at my hand.
“We have to wait in line, honey,” I explained. Luckily, Yonder Mountain’s jam drowned out whatever whining came from the child now pulling on my leg.
Finally, we reached our goal. A vanilla ice cream cone.
“Here, have some of this!” I didn’t ever imagine I would be force-feeding my child ice cream, especially in an attempt to keep her awake.
“Mommy, hold me.”
Elle cannot take another step. Literally. She fell asleep in my arms before we reached the beer booth.
Ha! I thought getting to the ice cream stand with a tired two-year-old was difficult. Then I had to navigate a sleeping two-year-old and a melting ice cream cone through a sea of swirling Yonder fans. Oh, what I wouldn’t have given to be so unencumbered as that guy carrying four beers and three corn dogs.
Nap time equates to approximately three hours each day during which my life has to slow down, if not come to screeching halt. Despite my desire to wring out every last hour of fun on these lingering late summer days, actually doing so is ill-advised.
When the goddess of nap time cracks her whip, I jump to attention.