If there is one thing I have learned in my new career as a babysitter, aside from the lamentable fact that my grandchildren are more mature than I am, it’s that napping is very important to both kids and geezers.
I found this out recently during a weeklong stay in which I babysat infant twins Zoe and Quinn and beat them at their own game by sleeping on the job.
Of course, I didn’t sleep while they were awake, or even while one of them was awake and the other asleep, but I did doze off while both of them napped, which refreshed me so much that it was practically a full hour after they both woke up before I needed another nap.
The problem with naps is that infants need them but don’t always want them and oldsters either want them but don’t always have time or don’t want them but slowly come to the realization that they need them because they are, after all, old.
According to my daughter Katie, who also happens to be the twins’ mommy, Zoe is “a good napper” and Quinn is “a bad napper.”
They both seemed pretty good to me, even when they weren’t on the same napping schedule, because one or both of them would nap anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours.
This gave me time, when their naps coincided, to catch a few Z’s myself.
And I needed the rest because most of the time, one would be up and the other down, or one would want to eat and the other wouldn’t, or I’d start to feed one and then, five minutes later, the other would want to eat, too, or one would need to be changed and the other would fuss until I had the first one cleaned up, then I’d have to change the other one’s diaper as well.
No wonder I was fatigued.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t always get to sleep while both kids were napping because I was too wired to be tired. I solved the dilemma by watching daytime TV, which had such a soporific effect that I was soon snoozing contentedly and dreaming about bottles and diapers.
My reverie was often interrupted by crying. This was a signal that one of the twins was awake and needed to be fed, changed or both. Sometimes, however, I merely dreamed that one of them was awake. So I went back to sleep. Two minutes later, one of them was awake for real and my nap was cut short.
Then I had to put the kids in clean outfits. These diabolical articles of baby clothing feature either snaps or zippers. The ones with snaps were obviously designed by sadists whose job is to stymie exhausted grandfathers who can’t line up the snaps properly. Needless to say, but I will say it anyway, they are not a snap.
The ones with zippers are easier but still troublesome when the baby kicks so furiously that the aforementioned grandfathers get their fingers caught or otherwise can’t get the outfit fastened. This often prompted me to say to either Zoe or Quinn, “Go out there and win one for the zipper.”
They had no idea what I was saying, but it made me feel better.
It also made me tired again. But I couldn’t take another nap until both children were taking one, too.
Still, naps are not a sign of old age. They are a pleasantly restorative experience that puts you in touch with your younger self and gives you the energy necessary to be a good babysitter.
Now that I’m retired, I like to nap even when I’m not watching the kids. As most geezers would agree, it works like a dream.
Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Hearst Connecticut Media Group, which includes his hometown paper, the Stamford Advocate. His column is distributed by Tribune News Service of Chicago and has run in newspapers nationwide and abroad. He is also the author of four books, Leave It to Boomer, The Empty Nest Chronicles, Grandfather Knows Best and Nini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures, all of which are “crimes against literature.” He has won seven awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for his humorous writing.