Day 232: A Toddler Rite of Passage

Yesterday, for the first time in his short life , Arlo (21 months), didn’t take a nap. We tried at 11am, again at noon, then at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm. At 4:15, feeling the pressure of  a young JFK  during the Bay of Pigs, we looked at each other, and said, “Well, I guess we’re just gonna have to keep him up.” We took ten deep breaths, put on our goalie pads, slipped a valium under our tongues (just me) and boarded-up our psyches in preparation for some impending toddler mind crimes.

An exhausted, defiant and TEETHING  2 year old is harder to comfort than a grandmother in a mosh pit. Hey, little guy, you’re young, sensitive, and know virtually nothing about the world. Would now be a good time for tiny little rocks to push through your gums and cause you enough pain to prevent sleep?

I was working all day, so my wife suffered most of the pre 5pm wrath. When I was done, I took him by myself while she stayed with our older son at the neighbor’s house (where they had already been playing). It was like caring for a frightened weasel. He was running all over the house yelling and motioning passionately for things he wanted which he hated the moment I gave them to him. The kitchen floor looked like the scene of a horrible piñata explosion. It was a health-conscious piñata filled with veggie bootie, pumpernickel pretzels and fruit bags. Believe me, I knew better than to feed this ADHD chimpanzee any tootsie rolls.

I did what any loving father would do – I took off all his clothes and gave him the iPad. He played with that for about 5 minutes before he wandered downstairs, opened a drawer, pulled out a straw and started using it as a phone. It wasn’t a joke, he was so insane that he put the straw up to his face and started talking into it. Now, either he’s from the future, or he’s entering sleep-deprivation hallucinations. Either way, I’m pretty sure no matter how many times he screamed “BooBoo” into the straw, his Grandfather couldn’t hear him.

When my wife came home, she offered him a cereal bar. He started eating it and she said quietly to herself, “Good, that’s got vitamins in it at least.” As soon as he heard “vitamins” he spit out the bar and wanted to eat the entire jar of gummy bear antioxidants (they’re delicious). To distract him, our next move was to take off all the sofa cushions and blast his favorite song (Dynamite by Taio Cruz… yea, I know. I’ll fix that later.)

You’d think kids would act tired when they’re sleep deprived, but it’s just the opposite. He was working on a whole new level, like we just put a fresh set of batteries into him. We acted as a safety net as he bounced from sofa to floor to coffee table to other sofa to daddy to mommy to sofa to cat. Then he started doing somersaults off the furniture with a complete disregard to whether there was anyone there to catch him. He was almost purposely trying to land on his head. Maybe it was to knock himself out – not a bad plan at that point.

I had to leave at 7:45 to do a standup show. I was able to get our 4 year-old to sleep before I left, and I figured Arlo was soon to follow. NOPE.  He stayed up for another hour, and after a fitful night’s sleep (which is normal for him), he was up for the day at 7:30am. Now that it’s behind us, it’s clear, that just like JFK and the Bay of Pigs, it was the right decision not to force anything. I should be honest here. I’m not sure what the Bay of Pigs was.

I'm a contributing writer to Parents Magazine, GQ, Psychology Today and some others. My book, "This is Ridiculous. This is Amazing: Parenthood in 71 Lists" is available here Look for two more books in 2015: "Must. Push. Buttons (Bloomsbury Kids), and an as-of-yet untitled memoir I’ve appeared on Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham” and “Nick Mom’s Night Out." I live in New Jersey with my wife and two sons and enjoy making them laugh more than anyone else.

23 comments On Day 232: A Toddler Rite of Passage

  • I agree with Hannah. You might be my new favorite blog and I've also started following you on Twitter. Very funny stuff. Always fun to follow fellow NJ parents of young boys.

  • LOL – Gummy Vitamins…. LOl a month ago i bought them and thought – "Wow, what a great idea"… my hubby and I make sure we get a vitamin each day too b/c they are so yummy… but in the last 3 days I have had 17 arguments with my 2 1/2 year old son on why he can ONLY have 1 a day….. No I know why they are not such a great idea….

    been working at this job 3.5 years – today was the first time I laughed at my desk….thanks to your blog….

  • After reading several of your posts and finding our thoughts almost in exact alignment on all topics (I have a 3 year old and a 15 month old) – I didn't recognize Taio Cruz and thought that would be an interesting listen to see what you are talking about. Wow was I surprised when it was crappy top-40 music like my wife listens too, and instantly recognized it as one of the over played "hits" on her favorite radio station (to which i give her listening rights to whenever i need to keep her in a good mood). My toddlers favorite song? – the song that will stop whatever is going on and instantly result in focus, attention and a bit of dancing? – Beasty Boys, Intergalactic. Which is, of course, uber cool for a 1 & 3 year old to be listening to – try it, it may work to ween your little one off the top-40 crap.

  • Christi Sizemore Beh

    Love this article! I have a 27 month old and days without a nap definitely challenge your patience and creativity!

  • Christi Sizemore Beh

    Awesome! I have a 2 year old also, and days without naps definitely challenge your creativity and patience. Great article.

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