Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Baby Who Would Not Nap

One gray, Parisian morning at half past eight Baby woke up, rolled over, and started babbling at the ceiling.

"Da da da da," said Baby.

"Da da da da," said the baby monitor in the room next door.

"Ugh," said Mommy, who rolled over and pulled a pillow over her ear.

A few moments later, Mommy opened the shutters in Baby's room and let the patchy sunlight in.

"Today Grandma is going to look after you while Mommy goes into town," said Mommy cheerfully.

"Ba ba ba ba!" said Baby, just as excited.

Nursing, a diaper change, a shower and breakfast for Mommy, and soon Grandma was at the door.

"You be good," said Mommy, as she put on her long, black coat, her red scarf and big, floppy black hat and left with a smile and a wave. The morning passed, Baby played with Grandma. Early afternoon came and Baby started to yawn. And to tug his ears. And to make little tired cries. But stubborn he was, and sleep he would not, no matter the cuddling and rocking that Grandma tried.

And so she took Baby for a walk. Baby smiled at everyone he saw, he stared at the trees, and sucked his thumb. On the way back inside, a tired Grandma ran into a neighbor.

"This is the baby who will not nap!" said Grandma, exasperated.

"A baby who will not nap? C'est impossible!" said the neighbor, who, tut-tutting, snuck off to tell the concierge.

The concierge mentioned it in passing to the postman, who spread the news at the boulangerie. Once the boulangère knew, everyone in town had soon heard news of the baby who would not nap. In the afternoon Grandma heard a knock on the door as the mayor himself came to visit.

With a wide grin, a pressed suit, and perfectly combed hair, the mayor greeted Grandma and took Baby from her arms.

"I am the mayor. I've planted parks, built schools, and talked my way out of a political scandal or two. I solve problems. I can make a baby nap," he smiled and added, "You voted for me, right?"

He took Baby for another walk around town to admire all of the flowers he'd planted, hurrying quickly in front of the crèches without saying a word. Baby started to cry, but stubborn he was, and sleep he would not, no matter the smiling the mayor tried.

"I'm afraid there's nothing I can do, madame," he said as he handed Baby back to Grandma and fled.

The mayor, an influential man, was not used to failure, and soon word got out that his political clout had not impressed his youngest, and loudest, constituent. There was gossip at the Assemblée Nationale, and the press talked of nothing else.

The prime minister decided to intervene before the embarrassment made the evening news. He came to visit, and took Baby from Grandma who was looking more tired by the minute.

"I am the prime minister. I reform universities, I negotiate with unions, I shape policy. I will present to you a nap reform plan, which I assure is backed by an overwhelming mandate..." As he talked, he walked Baby around the room, droning into his ears using big words that Baby didn't understand. Grandma was ready to fall asleep listening to him herself, but Baby's eyelids didn't budge. Stubborn he was, and sleep he would not, no matter how many speeches the prime minister tried.

"Ga! Ga ga ga ga!" said baby as he tugged at the prime minister's hair.

"This petit is a dangerous adversary, a stubborn child who will surely grow up to be a trade union leader. Maybe the CGT or worse, the SUD," he thought to himself as he handed Baby back to Grandma and fled.

The prime minister did his research and learned that Baby was half-American. This was a shared burden, alors. Perhaps the American ambassador would have some special way of communicating on the issue.

The ambassador arrived in a big, black car with dark windows and flags stuck on each side of the hood. He knocked at the door and Grandma let him in, more than happy to have the now grumpy Baby taken off her hands.

"We'll go for a ride in my car," said the ambassador. I'll show you Paris, and we'll follow some nice people with motorcycles and sirens. We won't even have to stop for traffic lights!"

Baby liked this new person, for he spoke Mommy's language. Baby was soon bundled up in his car seat next to Grandma, and he craned his neck to see the bright lights as they sped down the Champs-Elysées. They drove from right bank to left, over bridges and through tunnels, but Baby was too busy looking around to close his eyes. Stubborn he was, and sleep he would not, no matter how much driving around the ambassador tried.

He abandoned Baby and Grandma on the curb in front of the apartment and drove away, shaking his head, as reporters and photographers surrounded them. Presidents were called. A NATO meeting was scheduled. The Baby Who Would Not Nap was a matter of international importance, a diplomatic incident in the making. Baby, quite tired by now, started to howl.

In the midst of the hubbub, a short figure in a long black coat with a red scarf and a big, floppy black hat arrived.

"Mommy!" thought Baby. "Ga ga ga ga ga!" he exclaimed, and grinned a wide grin that showed off his three teeth.

"Have you been good to Grandma today?" she asked as she scooped him into her arms. "And who are all these people?"

"No nap all day," "Total nap refusal," "pas de sieste de tout," whispered the reporters into their tape recorders. A few pushed forward to ask questions. Mommy dismissed them with a shrug and a smile as she planted a kiss on Baby's forehead.

"Baby's just like that, I guess. And now anyway it's time for bed."

Nursing, a diaper change, a lullaby and soon Baby was sound asleep.

"ZZzzzzzzzzzz," said Baby.

"ZZzzzzzzzzzz," said the baby monitor in the room next door.

"Whew!" said Grandma.


Anonymous said...

That's cute; it would make a good kid's book. Perhaps someday I could do the illustration and we could publish it ;)

I had A LOT of trouble getting Saffi to nap at first. At some point I just started nap nursing her and still do. There have been just a few days when the nap wasn't welcome to me as well.

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

If you want to illustrate it, absolutely! I wish I could, but alas, though I can kind of imagine what it might look like, I completely lack the talent to do it myself.

I sometimes nurse him to nap during the day, and just hold him in my arms while he sleeps. I enjoy getting the time to either read or doze off myself. He also naps sometimes when we go for walks together, and since I make it a point to get out of the house at least once a day, that often works. Alas, he's into twenty-minute power naps at the moment, which hardly seem to qualify as naps in my book...

Inki said...

I love this story! Definitely reminds me a lot of my little one - she is the queen of the thirty minute nap and is VERY picky about how and when she will go to sleep. At least you got a good story out of it :-)