N-A-P, perhaps the greatest three letter word in the English language. The joy one receives from taking a midday nap is truly a remarkable thing, and in my eyes this joy is right on par with winning a gold medal in the all-around in gymnastics at the Olympics. When you couple the word nap with the word triplets and then couple that again with two-year-olds, this wonderful three letter word takes on a completely different meaning. I knew the day would come when these Trishlets would no longer be confined by the bars on their cribs and would actually be in these things we refer to as beds (that I’ll have you know in case you were unaware are perfectly conducive for aimless wandering). You see those bars on cribs, yes indeed keep your baby safe while they are in them, but more importantly they keep your baby contained. Every baby needs to be in mini jail from time to time for not just the sanity of their parents, but also for the sanity of their aunt nanny. And at this point in my nanny career, I long for those days of containment.
A few months before the Trishlets turned two, the hulk/superman baby decided to traverse the confining wood arrangement of his crib and escape into the utter delight of uncharted naptime freedom. Trish and I were shocked that the smallest one was able to perform this Houdini act, and we knew it wouldn’t be long before his two compadres would join him. (I would secretly spy on Henny as he attempted this move as soon as I walked out the door, and while I was angry he was getting out of his crib and had a vested interest in his safety, I was quite impressed by his swiftness, strength, and fearlessness.) It became a daily routine of me putting him back into his crib two/three/four times all the while Gracie and Tommy looked on with a mixture of feelings of being envious of his freedom, entertained by his antics, and fury as Grace in particular would repeatedly scream, “Henny bad, Henny bad.” As the pattern has seemingly gone in their short time here on earth, as soon as one triplet does something the other two will eventually do it as well. So, within a few short weeks these animals were turning naptime into Mardi Gras, which only meant one thing: beds needed to be put into place.
And if we thought Mardi Gras celebrations were going down while the cribs were still in their room, boy were we wrong. They embraced the beds whole heartedly and actually took to them immediately which was great to see. Adding to that, the darkness of night usually was good for keeping them in their beds throughout the night, however in the lightness of day they had other things on their mind than sleeping. (Little do they know when they grow up all they will want to do is have the opportunity to sleep during the day….what idiots.) This new freedom meant the world was their oyster and by world I mean their bedroom, and by oyster I mean performing demolition work. Does that make sense? Probably not, but I think you get me. Their bedroom essentially has turned into a WWE wrestling ring. In one corner we have Mike Tyson (Henny) who attacks with anger and spares no sibling the wrath of his teeth, in the other we have Loud Mouth McGee (Gracie) who can be heard five houses down, in the other corner slinks the Wimpinator (Tommy) who is often the prey of Henry’s stalk, and in the final corner is the elder statesman, the knocked out nanny.
It seems like I’ve tried it all. I’ve pretended to sleep on the floor and they suddenly turn into teenagers and join me on the floor, of course not sleeping, but instead thinking we are going to read and discuss the latest issue of YM or something. I’ve left the room, let them play for a few minutes, and gone back to tell them calmly that now it is sleep time. I’ve left the room, let them upset one another which is code for someone is crying, and then come in like a raging mom to scare them back into their beds. Trial and error people, trial and error.
They have been in their beds for months now but each day during naptime anything, and I mean ANYTHING can happen. If I really wanted to entertain myself for years I would set up a hidden camera to record them day in and day out, and then just watch the endless hours of their crazy naptime antics. But I ain’t got time for that. Instead, I just let the sights and the sounds continue to permeate my memory so when I am older I will never forget these days. And you know what, I feel like we are all on this journey together, so you shouldn’t either. Without further ado, please let me share just a snippet of the types of things, sounds, and occurrences I encounter daily around midday (Oh and to make it a little easier to comprehend I gave them some titles to categorize the descriptions that follow):
- Habitat for Humanity – This obviously refers to the hammering away, moving two by fours, and the constant drilling sounds that can be heard coming from their room that never cease to amaze me. First off, where and what are you doing to make these metal on metal sounds emerge. Second off, I appreciate your concern for helping build homes for those in need, but as your nanny I am concerned for your safety. And frankly, I just don’t understand how one minute I am enraged by what sounds like a complete demo and renovation of your room, and then the next minute when I enter said room no tools can be found. These sounds on a scale of 0 to 10 for problematic naptime behavior concerns rank at a solid 8. Mainly because I don’t know if home owner insurance would cover the onsite injuries.
- The Shhhhhhushhhhhhh Off – A distant cousin of The Sing Off, The Voice, American Idol and pretty much any other vocal competition can be heard during naptime at the McGinn household. Just like the contestants on some of these shows the notes get higher and higher, and no one is on pitch. You see, when you are trying to put two-year-olds to sleep and you “shhhhh” one of them it automatically turns into a “shhhhhussshhhhhhhhhhh” off. There is no way around it. I have learned to refrain from this tactic, but I’m human and impulse takes over, and then once again I am surrounded by competitive shhhhhusshhhing to see who can out shush one another. And I can tell you right now there is never a winner, and there will never be one. The only winner is me when the shhhhhusshhing has stopped. Oh and furthermore, the out shushing each other is not limited to just shushing, but rather any audible noise that can be mimicked. On the scale this ranks around a 4. Mildly aggravating but can be controlled directly by me not being the bonehead who started it.
- Last Comic Standing – You know when the perfect time is to practice your stand-up routine when you are a two year old? That’s right you guessed it, naptime! Not surprisingly all their acts rely heavily on physical comedy, which hey I’m not the biggest fan of, but they aren’t pandering to me so who cares anyway. They keep each other laughing by making a silly sound or pulling a wild move out. While yes these routines performed to clearly entertained audiences do deprive them of sleep, the laughter is too sweet to admonish. Therefore, these types of occurrences rank about a .96 on the scale of problematic naptime behavior concerns.
- Clue – Sometimes, just sometimes, the day turns into a real life version of the wildly popular movie Clue and the somewhat popular board game Clue. Usually it reads like: It was Mike Tyson in the center of the room with the teeth. In other words, when he was going through his biting phase Henny almost always was the culprit and his weapon of choice was almost always the weapon found in his mouth. The Mrs. White screams that follow are all I need to hear to know one of them has been struck, and thus on the scale it shoots it up to 9 out of 10 for level of concern. Sometimes, there is not enough evidence or clues to solve the mystery which turns the naptime for that day into an unsolved mystery and me into an unsatisfied Sherlock. Come to think of it, I think I would watch/participate in a game/show that essentially had troubling events take place and you then have to piece together the clues to figure out which toddler did it. Well, there’s a truck over here by the edge of Grace’s bed, and a scratch mark on his left ear, and I have no idea where this is going but fun right! (I think those last few sentences are the only evidence needed to prove that maybe this nannying of triplets is tugging at my sanity just a tad.) Coming up on Unsolved Mysteries a trio that refused to nap results in one being struck by teeth, but we have the survivor who walked away to live to tell about it! (Nope, this sentence provides evidence too.)
- Running with the Bulls – Some days I am so lucky as to be transported to Pamplona. While I much prefer the Spanish siesta that is so highly touted. I am instead treated to the sounds of feet pounding the floor as they sprint so ferociously that the only logical explanation is they are trying to escape from the bulls. They usually hit many roadblocks along the way which include slamming into their bedroom door at god knows how many mph. So yeah nothing but peace and tranquility during these exciting nap days. On the scale from 0-10, the level of concern for this problematic behavior in particular can be noted at somewhere between a 5 and a 100.
- Whimpers in the daylight* – (*sung to the tune of Celine Dion’s opening line from “I’m Your Lady”) After two years you become quite familiar with what kind of cry signifies clear and present danger and what kind of cry signifies complete disregard for any sort of acknowledgement. It becomes a bit trickier when deciphering cries through walls, and even more so when you know that if you make a nanny appearance in the room after already shutting the door it could result in screwing the whole naptime up, and as evidenced they are hardly responsible for screwing up naptime on their own so I don’t want the blame on my hands. But back to my point, sometimes whimpering noises can be heard and it really is a crapshoot as to when to intervene. I first ask myself what would Jesus do, and then make a split second decision like the professional baseball hitter that I am. Sometimes it pays off when they are steadily whimpering because a roommate of theirs took a book they wanted to read (very pressing matter), and other times it doesn’t pay off when you hear them whimpering and choose to ignore it because hey they’re two now and it’s time they step up to the plate and handle their own issues, and you later walk in to find them in the corner with their tiny fingers stuck in the vent. What can I say, you live and you learn.
So what can be gathered ultimately from me describing these occurrences is: I will pay top dollar for someone to come install those blackout blinds that rich people have in their homes. And top dollar means my nanny salary, and if anything is top dollar it is that. Also, it has become increasingly more obvious that perhaps toddler rooms should adapt the minimalist lifestyle – no toys just beds, padded walls, silent doors, no clothing being stored anywhere on the premises, and dosages of naptime non harmful sleeping pills. All these I believe are very realistic and obtainable things to ask for.
Basically, I’m just a nanny trying to get through each groundhog’s day all the while ensuring these Trishlets get their requisite hours of sleep. And you don’t have to explain to me why napping is so critical for toddlers. The importance of napping for a two-year-old goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. It includes but is not limited to: it allows me to eat whatever snack/food item I want without having to share it with anyone, it allows me to watch whatever TV show my heart desires, it allows me to do my grad school work, it allows me to take a nap, it allows me to write a blog post once every seven months, it allows me to go to the bathroom in private, but most importantly it allows me to sit in silence. Ooops it appears I forgot to mention all the benefits napping has for them, oh well.
Days of silence are always the best. Days of retrieving them from nap to find them completely naked are fun too. Days where you can’t find one because they fell asleep in the closet are entertaining as well. Days where it looks like a category 5 hurricane hit the room are not as entertaining. And any day when blood has not been drawn represents one thing – and that is victory. So on the positive side we’ve achieved many victories in our journey together through naptimes, and I know that one day in the future that glorious three letter word, N-A-P, that I so love, will be restored to its proper order.