Nap time has not been going well lately. Sometimes Jack sleeps for 30 minutes to an hour, and sometimes there is no nap. The problem is, I don't know ahead of time which kind of nap day it is. There is a lot of lying in bed with him for a long time, waiting to see if he'll go to sleep. During this time, he talks to himself, rolls around and sometimes kicks or swats me in the face on (sort of) accident. This is NOT restful for me. On the days he doesn't sleep, I end nap time feeling the very opposite of what I'd like - tired and irritated, instead of rested and refreshed. I've been thinking that we need to do something different. I don't want to spend no-nap days feeling grouchy for the second half of the day, because I spent my down time being poked in the face with Jack's feet. And, honestly, I don't think it's something I should have to put up with. I am not big on formalities like calling parents "ma'am" and "sir," but I do feel severely disrespected being repeatedly kicked in the face by the little person I spend most of my time taking care of every day.
So, I've started giving Jack a warning, like "Don't kick me. That hurts. Be gentle to Momma's face." If he doesn't heed the warning, I leave the room. This worked a couple of times. He would then come out of his room, appropriately meek and say, "Sorry, Momma. Come back." I'd say, "Will you be gentle to Momma?" He'd answer yes, I'd go lie back down with him and he'd go to sleep or at least refrain from whacking me for the rest of the time.
Last Thursday, though, we did this routine, and Jack was right back at it the moment I laid back down with him. He actually pulled my hair (very much on purpose), and when I told him to stop, he pulled harder. I got up and said, "You can do the rest of nap time on your own. You can come out of your room when the turtle light comes on." The turtle light was set to come on in fifteen minutes. He tried to come out of his room immediately after I left, but I... and I really hate to admit this... I held the door shut. Jack began crying hard. When I heard him flop back onto his bed, I went and sat in our guest room next to his. I stared at the carpet and listened to him bawl and felt like shit. He cried on and off for the next ten or so minutes and fell asleep three minutes before the turtle light came on.
He slept for about thirty minutes and woke up crying hard, just like he went to sleep. He was hard to comfort and acted very sullen and subdued for the next half-hour. He just sat on my lap, being quiet and not really wanting to snuggle - unusual for Jack. He did come out of it, though, and there don't seem to be any lasting effects or trauma. Jack has neither learned to fall asleep by himself, nor has he developed a complex about being left alone. I haven't left the room before he falls asleep since then, and Jack has ceased in doing me bodily damage as well. So, maybe to some degree, it worked. I think the take-home lesson here is a reminder to myself not to worry so much that every little thing I do will dramatically impact my child's development and determine whether he wins the Nobel Peace Prize or leads a life of petty crime living in a cardboard box under I35. Jason told me that, if the worst thing Jack has to deal with growing up is crying himself to sleep for nap one time, he's got it pretty good. Jason has a very good point. I don't know if we'll ever repeat this particular scenario, but we might. At the very least, I think I'll let myself off the hook this time.