So, as happens from time to time, my 4-year-old is on a napping boycott. We have already removed everything resembling a toy from her room, because these distractions seem to make it harder for her to stay in bed until she falls asleep. But that isn’t stopping her from finding entertainment in lieu of napping. This week it’s been hangers. Those cheap plastic ones that her favorite dresses and skirts came on. There are no clothes on these hangers, they just live in her closet for no apparent reason. Now they have a new purpose.
Minutes after putting her down for her afternoon nap, I can hear on her monitor the faintest of creaks as she climbs out of bed (she really is stealthy for such a young child), followed by whispering. She lines the hangers up on her floor, gives them names, and creates scenarios for them: a mother and father going swimming with their child; a prince and princess getting married; a beast chasing, then being subdued by, a young girl. She has a great imagination, and her inability to turn it off in order to get the sleep she needs is no surprise to me, as I did the same thing at her age.
I remember my mother tucking me into bed, waiting as long as I could stand (for her to settle in front of the TV in the other room), then sneaking out of bed and creating fantastic stories with the stuffed animals who lived on my bed. They were castaways on an island, trying to get home (I loved Gilligan’s Island as a child) or children who found themselves in a magical world were anything was possible.
I don’t want to limit her imagination time, but the cranky factor cannot be denied. A nap missed means an evening of talking back, erupting into tears over the smallest things, and lots of little sister bullying. Maybe I can steer her toward playing Sleeping Beauty or Snow White, with napping as part of the game. Until then, I’ve removed the hangers. Today I expect to hear her using fingers and toes as characters in her next play, but I’m hoping instead for the sweet sounds of a napping child, followed by a cheerful evening where she is not too cranky to enjoy herself.