Nap time in my preschool class: one of the most challenging and hysterical aspects of teaching. I often joke that I drink so much coffee that caffeine must radiate from my pores, and the children around me breathe it in. Maybe there’s a science in that, but I’m too lazy to look it up.
It usually starts off quiet; we mellow out to this old school Christian music reminiscent of “Loggins and Messina Live From the Redwoods”. I kind of feel like I should tie a flannel shirt around my waist but I sit there with my partner and we rub backs and we stroke hair and we soothe and we whisper and hum softly. Eyelids droop. Snoring commences.
A rustling catches my attentions. He stirs. He tosses, turns. His head pops up, then down; then back up. His eyes are bright. “Wanna take your shoes off and get comfortable, buddy?” I whisper to him.
“No.” He is resolute.
“Why don’t you rest your head on your pillow? It’s soft,” I suggest.
I hum. I rub backs.
My buddy reaches his hand out and touches the wall. He scans the room. He tiptoes his fingers to another sleeping bag.
“No, we let our friends sleep,” I quietly remind him.
The hands and feet come out. His backside goes up and he does quick gymnastics on his napmat. A pair of sleepy eyes watch from across the room.
The eyes meet.
A silent wave.
A voice sings, faintly at first.
“Shhhhhhh. It’s time for rest,” I say.
They will not be shushed.
The song continues. Another head pops up. Another hand emerges.
I hear a zipper from the other side of the room but I can’t tell from where. My buddy and his comrade are fully awake. The song is louder now.
A leg noisily props itself up against the wall. More giggles. Someone builds with blocks under a blanket.
My buddy stares me down from his napmat, but it is my sure-thing napper that makes the first move. She not-so-stealthily crawls to the table, turning to be sure I haven’t seen her.
The first breech has occurred.
More have joined in, singing the song of angry men.
Signals are made and my buddy attempts the second breech.
He is successful. Four preschoolers are instantaneously out of their beds. There will be no more back rubs. Now I can only focus on damage control.
“Only quiet, walking feet while everyone else is sleeping,” I almost beg.
The overhead light comes on. A fifth child is awake. I whirl to face him. Across the room, someone else yanks the blinds open.
“I see a white truck!”
“Miss Toni can you read this book?”
“I accidentally stepped on so-and-so’s head and it hurt my foot!”
An all-out revolution has begun. Naptime is officially over. I smile, read books, tie shoes, and clean up.
I do not know if I will ever have a soothing enough presence that every child in my care will sleep for an hour come 12:30 p.m.
But I do know that my class is a class of the iron-willed; for the kids who won’t be left sitting on the sidelines, who refuse to take the easy way out. They will not take their shoes off! They will not put their heads down! They will not go quietly into the night! These children will one day rock our quiet town. They’ll stick it to the man. They’re gonna slay giants. I can’t wait to see it.
In the meantime, I might go easy with the coffee on school days.