You sold your right to rest, old man

My eldest son recently turned four. He hasn’t taken a daytime nap in two years. A lot of parents of two-year-olds seem to be terrified at the notion of their children ceasing to nap in the afternoons. I’ve always been fine with my son not taking naps. What’s bothered me is all the naps I’ve missed.

I don’t get to take many naps these days, which is troubling, because I’m getting old and I need my rest. I am my son’s First Runner Up Playmate. This means that I am on call whenever the Grand Champion Playmate is not available. The Grand Champion Playmate is any child, aged 3-10 years, who happens to be at our house for any reason. Since children, aged 3-10 years, don’t cycle through our house as often as they might, I am regularly called up to active duty.

Playing with trains on floor

He always gets a supercool, long train while I’m stuck with the little nothing engine. Plus, he can fit in between the tracks, so he doesn’t have to crawl all around the room. No fair!

When I come home from work, the first order of business is to help the boy build a train track. There is already a train track in the middle of the living room floor, but the boy has at least four different sets of tracks, and those present are yesterday’s tracks – outdated and out of favor in these modern times. They must be replaced by a different set of tracks to meet the needs of present-day society.

Roughhousing while play trains

He can sense when I am especially weak and vulnerable. This inspires him to introduce an element of horseplay (guess who gets to be the horse) into playing trains, making it extra fun.

I should point out that I adore my boys, and I love spending time with them. It is only when I am very tired that I become a stick-in-the-mud at playtime. When you are all tuckered out, the only one you want to spend any time with is Mr. Sandman. Mr. Sandman doesn’t like playing trains.

Playing in a tent

Notice that the big set of feet seem dead to the world while the little set of feet are still active. This is the ideal way to play in tents; everybody gets what they want out of it.

Mr. Sandman does play some games, though. One that he can be persuaded to play for a few moments at a time involves tents. Kids love to play in tents, and if you can get a small enough tent, you can steal 40 winks in the middle of the game. If the only way you can get into the tent is by lying down, you’ve got a good tent. The trick is to make sure the game involves staying in the tent, as opposed to getting into and out of it. Inventing games that include occasional snoring helps too.

Parenthood means lost sleep. It’s a fact of life. My advice to those who are soon to become parents is to take a big, long nap right now. Right now!