Yesterday, after returning from a five day long trip which required leaving my wife at home with both kids, I took a nap. Now before you call the police, I want you to know it was an accident. There was no premeditation involved, so at worst I’m guilty only of involuntary napping. I fell asleep with my coat on and the only thing more indicative of an unwitting snooze is dozing off while standing.
My wife was nice enough not to wake me up and say, “Um…no.” At the same time, she didn’t put a blanket on me, dim the lights or even hush the children. If I were to nap, I would have to do so within a hostile environment while clad in winter gear. I agree, it’s only fair. Nor was she particularly nurturing upon my waking. “Wow, I took a nap.” I said, innocently. From inside the blanket tent in which she was playing Candy Land with a three year-old wielding a flashlight, she responded with a monotone, “Yup, you did.” I wasn’t necessarily in trouble and no charges would be filed, but I was clearly indebted.
Furthering my defense of this heinously selfish act, you should know that we’d just returned from an exhausting visit to the Liberty Science Center where we crawled through 80 feet of dark tunnels and I ate a cheeseburger in 42 seconds. Plus, I was (and still am) on west coast time. Yes, technically it was only noon on the west coast but there’s this thing called jet lag, which at times can cause even the most dedicated and loving father to shirk his parenting responsibilities.
It’s actually amazing that I nap as infrequently as I do. Falling asleep is in my genes. Sure it’s in everyone’s genes, but in mine it plays a more prominent role. My most salient childhood memories are those of my father napping on our blue sofa in his underwear. He might have been wearing clothes but my brain has a tendency to take things from the past and punch them up a bit. My mother, by contrast, has never been seen lying down during the day. If I witnessed her in any such position, I would immediately call the paramedics. Like a normal person she sits, stands or walks until it’s bedtime, then she goes about a predictable routine and slips into a comfortable bed where she sleeps without moving until she wakes as if in a Lunesta commercial: happy, energetic and ready to tackle the day. So I’m a mix of that: part of me tries to sit and be alert when the sun is up, while another equally powerful element compels me to tilt my head back and snore like a cartoon character.
But oh what a tremendous dad I was after that nap. I’m not sure if it was driven by guilt or an hour of REM sleep, but I built forts, played indoor tag replete with “goofy running,” read Mac and Cheese books and even played a card game called “Slamwich”until well after 9pm. My wife took that opportunity to don her bedtime pants and practice Temple Run Brave on her iPhone.