My goal is to get Trevor into his crib by 2pm for naptime, with no tears.
At about 1pm, he starts tugging on my sleeve while I’m just setting my lunch on the table.
“You’re all done? You’re all done? Play out back?” Trevor has never liked to let me eat in peace, ever since he was a newborn.
I leave my lunch on the table, take his outstretched hand, and together we head to the playroom at the far end of the house.
He drives one of his favorite cars, his black monster truck, up to me.
“Hi, Mommy,” he says in a deep voice.
“Hi Monster Truck, how are you today,” I reply.
“I fine,” he says in his deep voice. He drives the truck under a couch throw pillow.
“Are you playing Hide and Seek, Monster Truck?” I ask.
Trevor laughs, he’s delighted by this idea. He huddles over the pillow, protecting Monster Truck from being found, while I pretend to look around the room.
This is a game he’s invented recently, where he pretends that his toy cars can talk. I love watching his imagination grow!
We play for a couple of minutes, and then I know it’s time to put in my first “gentle reminder.”
“After we play cars, it’s time for your nap.”
“NOO! I don’t want to take a nap! Mickey Roadster Racers! First Mickey, then nap!”
“Okay. But you understand right? First Mickey, then your nap.” I grab the remote and find an episode of Trevor’s favorite show, Mickey Roadster Racers, on demand. I head back to my now-cold lunch.
About ten minutes later, less than halfway through the show, he comes running up again, tugging at my sleeves. “Play Play-Doh now? Play Play-Doh?”
“Trevor, we said it was time for a nap after Mickey, remember?”
Trevor looks devastated. Like he’s just been informed that his Monster Truck was stolen. It breaks my heart to see him sad. It always has, ever since he was a newborn. “Nooooo. Play Play-Doh now. First Play-Doh, then nap.”
So we get out his Play-Doh.
Play-Doh is Trevor’s third favorite toy, after his toy cars and his BRIO railway set. He has eight different colors, each in a mini plastic container. He needs help from me to open the containers and pull the sticky Play-Doh out. It always gets under my nails and sticks to the fabric on Tru’s elbows.
He decides to start with blue.
“Make it flat,” instructs Tru. Together, we roll the dough flat on his Little Tikes picnic table.
When the dough is flattened, we use mini plastic cookie cutters to cut different shapes: “Mama, you do red oval. I do yellow triangle.”
We continue on like this, me kneeling down beside little Tru at his plastic table, until we’ve gone through each of the eight colors.
At age two, Tru still has a short attention span. But he loves Play-Doh and will focus intently on it for half an hour.
Next, he wants to put each color back in its container. So we go through each of the eight colors, until every container is filled and every lid is sealed shut.
“Read books now? Time for books?” Tru asks next. We always read books in Trevor’s bedroom before bedtime. This is a major win that he’s volunteering to read books!
“Yes, let’s go upstairs for books,” I say, feeling hopeful.
We’re holding hands again as we make our way slowly up the stairs. Our staircase has tall, wide steps. But these days, Trevor is handling them with more and more confidence. He doesn’t need my help anymore, but he’s still willing to hold my hand.
He voluntarily walks into his room (amazing!).
I close the door behind us, pull the curtains over the windows, and turn on his white noise machine. I’m trying to “hint” that nap time is coming without saying a word.
He grabs his first book, Llama Llama Jingle Bells and curls up into my lap.
Reading time has always been my favorite time with Tru, ever since he was a newborn. I love books, and I love watching Trevor’s love of books grow.
Plus, this is one of the rare times where he’ll sit quietly and let me hold him in my arms.
Plus, his hair is inches from my nose and it’s so soft and always smells like honey and maple and sugar.
“Pick one more book and then a diaper change,” I say. I need to get a fresh diaper on him before I can get him into his crib.
“NOOO! No diaper,” Trevor fights diaper changes as much as he fights naptime.
“One more book first. Pick one more first,” I sigh.
He picks The Berenstain Bears Trim the Tree. I don’t usually read the words to the books, Trevor flips the pages too fast for me to finish. So together we point out pictures and make up stories of our own.
He gets up and drives a toy truck around his room.
He walks dangerously close to the door, like he’s getting ready to run through the hallways. I know this because he’s done it many times before.
“No Tru. I need to change your diaper now. NOW.”
Tru has very selective hearing.
I don’t think he purposely ignores me (but maybe…??)
I think he’s just learned to completely block out the sound of my voice whenever I’m saying something he doesn’t want to hear…
He opens the door and bolts down the hallway at full speed.
“Play Hide and Seek? Hide and Seek now?” he asks hopefully.
I consider this. Tru is just starting to “get” the concept of Hide and Seek. For a while he would just chase after me when I went to find a hiding spot, laughing with delight. Now he understands to stay put – face all wrinkled from squeezing his eyes shut – and count to ten.
I agree to Hide and Seek. He loves this game, and it usually tires him out quickly.
Trevor goes to hide while I count.
His full-of-life, full-of-excitement laughter gives away his hiding spot immediately. But I pretend to peek behind a couple of doors before I find him.
After a few more rounds, he yawns.
I yawn too.
He lets me change his diaper. It feels like a wrestling match, as he kicks his legs and rolls from one side to the other.
“More books now?” he asks.
He picks out one of his favorites, Little Blue Truck’s Christmas. He flips quickly though the pages so there’s hardly any time to read the words.
He always rushes to get to the last page, the one with a Christmas tree that really lights up with colorful blinking Christmas lights.
At one point, he falls back into my arms so that I’m cradling him like I always have, ever since he was a newborn.
“You’re still my baby, aren’t you Tru?” I say, “You’ll always be my baby.”
“Mama tootsie-wootsie,” he says. I laugh out loud at that. Trevor comes up with the funniest and cutest lines these days.
He’s remembering the words to a song we’ve been listening to in the car almost every day. It’s called In The Good, Old Summertime, from an old Disney cd called Children’s Favorite Songs:
“You hold her hand / And she holds yours / And that’s a very good sign / That she’s your tootsie-wootsie in the good, old summertime.”
As he lays back in my arms, he looks right into my eyes. For a brief second, time is suspended.
In his eyes, I see a little of my own eyes. And a little of Chris’s eyes. And a little of my mom’s. And my dad’s. And my grandpa’s. And my nana’s. And Chris’s grandfather and grandmother. He’s a mixture of all of us and all of our lives! Eyes so clear and fresh and full of promise…
He selects three more books: ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas on Sesame Street, then Paw Patrol: Countdown to Christmas, then Shapes.
He yawns again.
I yawn too.
Finally, I say, “alright Tru, you know what comes next. Into the crib.”
“Nooo bed! No nap! No bed!”
To try to keep him from crying about the crib, I offer him something I know he loves.
“Once you’re in your crib, would you like me to bring you a milk or an orange juice?” I ask.
I feel clever with this question. It gets him thinking about something he can enjoy in his crib, and it gives him the power of making a choice.
At first Trevor’s quiet and I think he’s ignoring me in order to stall. But then he says, “orange milk. I need orange milk.”
We read one more book, My First Counting Book, and I’m hoping he’ll forget about the orange milk idea.
Finally (finally!) he lets me pick him up and hoist him into his crib.
I run downstairs to grab his sippy cup of milk from the fridge.
It’s not there.
Trevor loves wandering the house with his milk, but the problem is no one knows where he leaves the sippy cups. Including Tru. Tru is always the last to know where he might have left his sippy cup.
I go in search. Luckily, I find the missing sippy cup quickly today. The bright yellow lid is peeking out from under the playroom couch.
I refill the cup, run back upstairs, and I hand him his milk. He accepts it with no comment.
I breathe a sigh of relief! He either forgot about the orange milk idea, or he’s decided to give me a break.
“Do you want to be tucked in?”
“Super big! Super big tuck-in,” says Trevor.
I cover him in the three blankets that his two grandmothers made for him.
“Love you Tru,” I say and blow kisses, as I head for the door.
“Make me flat,” he says. He’s remembering how we rolled out the Play-Doh like cookie dough.
I smooth the blankets until they’re perfectly flat.
“Bye Tru! Love you!”
“Mama! Mama!” he cries out. I can hear the fear in his voice. He doesn’t like to be left alone.
“You’re okay Tru. You’re safe. I love you always, even when I’m not beside you,” I say. I rub his back and sneak toward the door again.
He lets me close the door without a complaint. He’s quietly sipping his milk.
I look at the time: 2:53pm.
We made it though the naptime routine in under two hours today, with no tears!
Next, the to-do list starts running through my brain like it always does when Trevor sleeps, ever since he was a newborn.
Today there’s: cleaning up the Play-Doh crumbs (they stick to the rugs if you miss them!) and toy trucks, plus cleaning up the mess from lunch, plus laundry, plus email, plus endless Christmas obligations.
I’m just getting started on everything I need to accomplish today, and it’s nearly 3 pm. I wonder where I will muster the energy when I’m feeling like I could use a nap more than Trevor.
But now I’m remembering how Tru lay in my arms and looked into my eyes and I looked into his and time stopped for a split second and we laughed together.
And I think maybe my timetables and lists and obligations matter less than I used to believe.
And I think maybe our two-hour naptime routine is just right.