As a young child edges towards the title of "big kid," nap time reaches new heights of preciousness to the parent.
While the napper desperately tries to avoid the subject altogether, the nap administrator enforces the event with bribes and serious sounding vocal tones. It is a precarious dance of lullabies and threats until long-lashed eyelids succumb to the lure of a room with well installed black out shades.
Everything must be in perfect harmony for a nap cusp-ish child to drift into slumber. One cannot afford a single misstep or the whole affair could end before it even begins; ensuring a nightmare afternoon filled with tears at drops of buckets and whatnot.
This is why, I am The Duck Hunter.
Duck is dingy yellow. He smells like saliva and strawberries. He's slightly damp most of the time. He is the key to my salvation.
We have an oft broken rule in our home. DUCK MAY NOT LEAVE THE BEDROOM. If this rule were adhered to, I would have another, less gruesome title. Something like, "Sweet Mommy That Kisses Me Night Night and Sings Pretty." But, somehow between breakfast and lunch, Duck, perhaps of his own volition, makes his way into nooks and crannies around our home, forcing me to become a huntress.
The journey upstairs for naptime is one fraught with tension. Negotiations begin long before the actual event. Quantity of books, temperature of milk, usage of the toilet: these are all topics that arise. But the quest for Duck is a daily pursuit that today, nearly threw me over the edge.
I spent 61 minutes - a record - searching for Duck. After checking the obvious spots, I began to search the less conspicuous areas where Duck has been known to pop up. I looked in:
· The garage
· The kitchen cabinets
· Behind the fish tank
· In the wine rack
· In the bath tub
· In the dog's bed
All the while, my son, consistently appeared out of bed every 3-5 minutes with an resounding chorus of "I need duck" until I actually closed my eyes, took a breath and said out loud, "Now if I were Duck, where would I be?"
I knew I was unbearably close to the nap time window closing and the rest of the day being a blur of rubbing eyes and whining when an image flashed before my eyes. A shock of blonde curls and a gross, sick, disgusting, makes me wanna puke scrub brush from the powder room. Hadn't I fussed at him earlier? Called out a distracted "put that back right now" while making turkey sandwiches?
As I recollect the moment, I walk passionately to the bathroom closet. I open the never locked, but now locked (I smell victory!) door. THERE IS DUCK. On the bottom shelf, tucked up against the vile scrub brush.
Exhaustion has overtaken my child. I find him doing downward dog and singing ABC's (just up to J) on repeat in his bedroom. Triumphant, I hold Duck (Olympic medal style) above my head as I enter his room.
60 seconds later my child is sound asleep.
Duck and I have a tempestuous relationship. And yet, I just can't quit him. The call of the hunt is simply too strong.