A few years ago, maybe three or four of them, I was a nap snob. It wasn’t my fault really because I grew up in a family of nap snobs. I don’t recall ever seeing my mother take a nap. My father only took naps when he worked two jobs and needed some sleep in between them.
My father instilled a great work ethic in his children, and that ethic did not involve sleeping on the job. Or sleeping when there were dishes to be done or bathrooms to be cleaned or a piece of string on the carpet to be picked up. In fact, if my father came home from work and found one of us taking a nap, he would invent a chore for the sleeper to do. A chore that meant getting up immediately. We soon learned that sleeping just meant extra work, so why bother?
In 2004 I married into a family of nap gluttons. Computer Geek and his children were consummate nappers. Because of my upbringing, I sometimes seethed inside when they dozed, assuming that they were napping to GET OUT OF WORK. Did I consciously think this? No. It was left over from childhood when it was assumed that if you were sleeping during daylight hours then you must be stricken with pneumonia and laryngitis and have a massive earache with proof that you had vomited. An absence of a fever might just mean you would be called upon to clean floorboards with a toothbrush.
I inadvertently passed this faulty thought pattern on to my son, who is now twelve years old and vehemently says, “I’m not lazy!” if I suggest that he take a nap after a low-sleep Scout camp-out.
Enter old age. It was right around my fiftieth birthday when the nap gods got revenge. They were sick and tired (did I mention that nap gods are always tired?) of my snobbery. Suddenly, napping became an involuntary activity for me. We might sit down for a family movie and two hours later I would open my eyes and say, “What happened?”
Or, I would be sitting at my computer, preparing a lesson for class the next day, and would wake up at 1:00 A.M. with my head tilted at an uncomfortable angle and a line of sahkjsdhfjkdhfyywuiuweyruiyiu strung across my monitor.
I have fallen asleep while listening to Weston say his prayers, while reading him a story, and even while watching Dancing With the Stars. (That one always makes me mad. I wait all night to see Derek dance and then I sleep through it.)
It could be because of my flouting the rules of sleep which say, “You must sleep eight hours a night.” Or “You must go to bed at the same time every night.” I’m really bad at both of those.
For example, last Wednesday night, or should I say Thursday morning, I didn’t go to bed until 4:35 A.M. That’s pretty silly for someone whose alarm was set for 6:00 A.M. I had a good excuse—I was grading lots of papers. (Did I mention that in November I had my students write novels? Was I insane? Did I forget that someday I would have to grade their efforts? ) At 4:35 I had a choice to make---just stay up all night, finish grading, and go teach school, or go to bed for an hour and a half?
I made the decision to go to bed, hit the snooze button until 6:30 and then got up. At 7:00 A.M. Computer Geek demanded that I sleep one more hour, and said he would teach my first two classes for me so I could get grades done. (Big advantage to having a husband without a job.)
All day, I had a vision in my mind of going to bed at 9:00 P.M. that night. Didn’t happen. Now that grades were done, I had Friday’s party to plan! After I got out of school, I worked on awards, certificates and an agenda for our post novel-writing party. Didn’t go to bed until 1:00. Still flouting those rules.
Taught all day Friday, came home from school to make some last minutes preparations for the NaNoWriMo is Over party, went to Grandson Avatar’s seventh birthday, and made it to the school party on time. Got home from the party at 10:00 P.M. and went immediately to bed. Ha ha! Just kidding! I stayed up until midnight.
And guess what I did? I slept. And slept. And slept. I slept until 12:30 in the afternoon the next day. I woke up, went to Weston’s room where he was creating an empire, sat on his bed and woke up an hour later. Yup—1:30 P.M. is when I finally decided that maybe I would get up and enjoy what was left of Saturday.
Thirteen and a half hours of blissful sleep. Don’t tell my dad, but I liked it.
(P.S. I have absolutely no regret over having my students write novels. I am very proud of them.)