NEWS FLASH…ALIENS HELP PRESCHOOLER TAKE A NAP!
Have you heard the one about the silly aliens who wear underpants on their heads?
My three-year-old grandson, I’ll call him Andy, loves books. One of his favorite things to do is to sit on my lap while I read, Aliens Love Underpants, by Claire Freedman & Ben Cort.
One of his least favorite things to do is to take a nap.
I only watch him on Mondays, so I cherish every minute we spend together. He loves playing make believe. This week we turned the dining room table into a rocket ship by throwing a sheet over the top and crawling underneath with flashlights. Then we did our count down…10, 9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1…and blasted off to outer space. We stopped at every planet in the universe (Andy knows their names and their order) to capture wayward aliens and bring them back to earth. After fighting interplanetary beings with wooden spoons and pot lid shields for nearly an hour, my mind and body ran out of gas. I needed to make a trip to the gas station—a.k.a, my comfy, cozy bed, for a nap.
“Boy, am I tired. Time to take a nap,” I said, stretching my arms and forcing a yawn.
Andy planted his feet, dropped his head to his chest, and screwed up his stubborn pink lips, “I’m NOT taking a nap today.”
Anyone who has studied psychology or has read parenting manuals knows that one cannot argue with a three-year-old. Mission impossible. They haven’t reached the age of reason. They can’t understand logic. Everything to them is black and white—yes or no—and mostly no.
Getting a three-year-old to do something isn’t a matter of telling him/her it needs to be done or explaining why it needs to be done. Getting a three-year-old to do anything simply involves turning it into a game.
“That’s okay, Andy,” I said. “You don’t have to take a nap, but I’m turning off the lights in the living room. They bother me when I’m trying to take a nap. Play all you like.”
Andy grinned then ran to his wooden train table and zoomed a toy Lamborghini over the roller-coaster- type tracks. “Okay, I’ll play while you take a nap.”
“Of course,” I said. “C’mon, Lovey, I’m going to read stories to you, since Andy isn’t interested.”
Our miniature poodle, Lovey, obediently followed me to the bedroom with tail wagging. He jumped up on the king-sized bed with the soft, blue and white comforter. I fluffed the pillows to make myself comfortable then proceeded to read Andy’s favorite book, Alien’s Love Underpants.
After every page, I showed Lovey the illustrations. “Look at this funny picture, Lovey. The alien has the underpants on his head. Isn’t he funny?”
A few seconds later, I heard the sound of tiny feet padding down the hallway, and I spotted two small white orbs peeking from the darkness into my bedroom. “Oh, hi, Andy. Would you like to see the funny picture?”
His head bobbed.
I turned the book around for him to see the colorful illustration of a green alien with two antenna-type eyes wearing cherry-red underpants upside-down on his head. “Maybe you can’t see it very well from way over there. Would you like to sit on the bed while I read?”
“Okay,” Andy said. “But I’m not taking a nap.”
“That’s fine. Whatever you do, don’t take a nap, okay?”
Andy pumped his head vigorously.
“Okay, let’s read.”
“Can you start over?” he asked.
I read the entire book and we giggled at the silly pictures. Then, like I do for every nap time, I read several more books—The Pigeon Wants a Puppy, by Mo Willems; The Boy Who Wouldn’t Share, by Mike Reiss; Go Dog Go, by P.D. Eastman, and a couple more. Before, during, and after the books, I reminded Andy, “Whatever you do, don’t fall asleep, because I don’t want you to take a nap today.”
About five books later, Andy’s head drooped, but it snapped upright when I said those famous little words, “The end.”
He yawned. “I’m not taking a nap. I’m just closing my eyes for a second.”
“Please don’t close your eyes,” I said. “Then you’ll fall asleep. The way to stay awake is to keep your eyes wide open. Don’t close your eyes, even for a second, okay? Don’t even blink.”
“But what if I have to close my eyes?” Andy asked. His pint-sized body lay limp beside me and his eyes were glassy.
“If you really, really feel like you have to close them, then I’ll let you close them, but only while I count to one hundred. But the minute I say, “One hundred,” you have to open them and keep them open, because I don’t want you to take a nap today, okay?”
He closed his eyes while I counted very, very slowly. I rubbed his forehead and his warm cheeks.
During the counting, I yawned periodically. When I reached one hundred, I gave one final s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out yawn.
Andy’s eyes flickered for a second. He said, “I love you, Mamie (pronounced with a long a)” Then he threw his arm around my neck and dove headfirst into dreamland.
Call it psychology, call it grandma love, call it whatever you want—both Andy and I slept for two hours, and it was heavenly.
Sometimes I don’t have a scripture verse in mind when writing a blog, but I still desire to give glory to God, because I wouldn’t be writing if it weren’t for Him. Today I’d like to share from Psalms.
“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:4-5 NIV
Deb Gardner Allard is a writer of books & stories for children. She has a B.S. degree in psychology and is a retired registered nurse. Her book, “Izzy and the Real! Truth About Moose Boy,” a book for 3rd through 5th graders, encourages children to talk about the difference between teasing and bullying while reading about the pranks of Moose Boy. The book can be purchased through Barnes & Noble.com, Amazon.com and most other venues. Deb enjoys blogging about children, as well. Visit her website at www.debgardnerallard.com.
Picture is titled, “Hi Monster,” by Tinneketin, rgbstock.com. My grateful thanks to Tinneketin for allowing others to use it.