Kids seem to be able to go to sleep in just about any position. I suppose adults can do that too, but it seems to be the kids who do it most often. And the thing that is most amazing is that the kids don’t seem to wake up with a neck ache or a backache or any thing else. If we sleep in those awkward positions, as adults, it seems like before long we are awakened by the crick in our neck or back that is screaming at us to, “for Pete’s sake…lay down!!” Not so babies. Whatever they are doing, when they get tired, like my grandson Caalab Royce or my niece, Toni Chase sleeping in their swing, my grandson Christopher Petersen or my daughter, Corrie Petersen sleeping in their highchairs in the middle of a meal, they simply close their eyes and it’s lights out!! It doesn’t matter if their meal is over or just beginning, if they are worn out from all the work of eating, they just give up and go to sleep. And we all know that a baby swing is the world’s best babysitter.
As parents or grandparents, we now have a decision to make. Should we take them out of the high chair, wash their face and hands, and put them to bed…risking the possibility that they will wake up and not want to go back to sleep? Now every parent knows that if you do that and they do wake up, your quiet time is over. That precious time only occurs when the little ones go down for a nap or to bed for the night. Disturbing that plan is not a great idea. And really, their little face can be washed later. It’s not like the food will stain anything…unless your child is my daughter, Amy Royce, who could give herself a Kool-Aid mustache that was really hard to remove…but then, that came after the nap, while she was glaring at me in her post-nap grouchy face…the one that made me decide that giving that happy little pre-nap girl her daily nap, was not worth the grouchy girl post-nap headache I got. Parents also have to weigh the pros and cons of the possibly grouchy baby who got a crick in their neck from sleeping in such weird positions in their swing, with the possibility of a grouchy baby who wouldn’t go to sleep after you repositioned them.
In the end, most parents opted to let the child sleep in whatever weird position they landed in…even if it was standing up. How does a child fall asleep standing up anyway?? I suppose it was a matter of having something to lean on that would support their weight, but why wouldn’t their little legs buckle in their sleep. I suppose my nephew, Ryan Hadlock came by that ability honestly, since my Uncle Bill Spencer, tells me that his little brother, my dad and Ryan’s grandpa, Allen Spencer fell asleep standing on a wood pile one time. In reality, when the need for sleep arises, we go to sleep, be it watching television, eating, sitting in a baby swing, in school, or oops…sometimes even at work. Our bodies have a mind of their own, when it comes to needing their rest, and if we don’t answer the call and go to bed, our bodies will just take matters into their own hands…and we will just have to deal with the consequences.
Most children take some type of nap for the first three to five years of their lives…and their mothers are grateful for that quiet time. I was no different, but I had one problem…my youngest daughter. Amy was a happy, smiley little girl, who loved to laugh and practically always ran wherever she went. Both of my girls were very happy little girls. When they were little, both of them took an hour to two hour nap every day. It was a time when I could clean house, do laundry, or maybe even read a book…which was shocking to my system. At first, they both woke up smiling and very happy, but as Amy approached two years old, things began to change.
My smiling little angel would go to bed so happy and when she woke up…all those little smiles were gone. The best thing to do then was not to speak to her for a while, because she was going to be grouchy for a while. My solution was to get her a glass of Kool-Aid, and wait it out. Amy was so grouchy that she would hold that glass up to her face, for an hour or two, sipping slowly, until she was ready to rejoin the rest of the world. The glass didn’t leave her mouth during that whole time. Now, if you know anything about Kool-Aide at all, you know that when it sits against a baby’s cheeks for a while, it will leave its mark on those little cheeks. One might have thought that it would be hard to catch a picture of a Kool-Aide face, but with Amy it was not difficult at all. She had a Kool-Aide face pretty much every day.
After almost a year of putting a happy toddler to bed and getting a cranky toddler up, I decided that I no longer cared what all the experts said about children needing their naps for the first five years. When Amy turned two, I made the decision that mine would be that strange household where the three year old took a nap, but the two year old took no more naps. Strange as it was, it was the best decision I ever made. Amy stayed happy and the Kool-Aide face became a thing of the past, and her big sister, Corrie took her naps for about another two years. And peace reigned in our house…which made me very happy!!
Throughout all the years that I knew Bob’s grandpa on his mother’s side, we all knew with certainty that he hated having his picture taken. So much so, that he would look away, or glare at the camera. We all just knew that any picture he was in would have him looking angerly away, and that made us sad sometimes, but there was nothing we could do to change things. I often wondered why he wouldn’t just cooperate, but we all assumed that he simply hated having his picture taken…badly enough to practically throw a fit about it. It got to the point where it was easier to leave him out or to let him be grouchy about it.
As I was going through some of the old pictures from my in-laws’ house, I came across a few pictures here and there, that were a little different. The grouchy look was gone, and he was looking at the camera. I began to wonder about something else…like what could have happened to make him hate having his picture taken. He wasn’t always that way. The pictures proved that. Life can change people sometimes. Sadness can take away their smiles, and every life has some sadness in it, but I couldn’t think of a deep sadness that had happened to him since these pictures were taken. So what could it be? What could have stolen his smiles, and turned him into someone who didn’t want his picture taken?
Since Grandpa died in 1985, I suppose that we will never know. It saddens me that he died with some deep dark sadness still living inside him. It saddens me that we never got to see the other side of him…the side of him that had smiles and laughter in it, because I think that side would have been very nice to know. I wonder why he locked that part of himself away? No, I guess we will never know what happened to Grandpa to make him that way. But, after looking at the pictures of his smiling face, looking directly at the camera, holding my brother-in-law, Ron when he was a baby and his smiling face looking lovingly at his mother, I will always know that there was a time when things were very different.
When you are taking a picture of a kid, you just never know what you are going to end up with. Kids show their emotions as they appear, and you can just deal with what they are feeling at the time, or just don’t bother taking the picture. Before the days of digital photos, you couldn’t even be sure if what you were getting…especially when it came to how fast the facial expressions of kids can change.
While my oldest daughter, Corrie was usually quick to smile, and pretty cooperative, my youngest daughter, Amy was more the take it or leave it kid. Those pictures could be so funny. Corrie was smiling, and you wondered who pinched Amy. Their kids seemed to follow suit too. Corrie’s oldest child, Christopher was all smiles, while Amy’s daughter, Shai can come up with some amazing take it or leave it shots.
I know lots of people would think that those angry faced shots would be something you would purge from the camera as worthless, but if you wait to delete them for a while, you might find that you really like those pictures too. They show the ways of children. Kids are so honest about there feelings and their moods. They don’t care if people see them crying, pouting, or angry, they just feel what they feel and you get to deal with the outbursts.
What I have found as I have looked at those grouchy pictures, is that after that frustrating moment lacking in cooperation is over, those grouchy faces can be very funny. I don’t suppose the child would think so…at least not at the time, but as they grow up, and especially after they have children of their own, they can appreciate just how funny those shots can be. So the next time you are tempted to delete a picture of your child that is sporting a grouchy face, wait a while, and try to look at that picture after the moment of frustration has passed, and see if you don’t think, as I did, that that grouchy face just might be the one you was as your wallpaper on your cell phone or computer, because it has a way of putting a smile on your face.
As a little girl, Amy was a child of several moods. I was forced to stop letting her take naps by the time she was 2 years old, because while Amy was a happy, giggly, sweet little girl before her nap…it was a very different picture when she woke up from a nap. You simply had to hand her a glass of kool-aide, and stay out of her way for about the next 3 hours. During that time, she kept that kool-aide glass pasted to her face, sipping it slowly, and invariably creating a kool-aide moustache, and glaring at everyone in sight. It was really odd, because she was not that way in the mornings…just after a nap!! So, when she was 2, her nap time ended…as did the glaring, kool-aide sipping aftermaths. I hated to lose my little bit of free time while the girls napped, and oddly, Corrie, who is a year older than Amy still needed and took her naps, but it was worth it to me to lose the free time, if it meant losing the grouchy little girl who always appeared after the nap.
Amy was always a child who knew exactly what she wanted, and she didn’t appreciate it if you chose to disagree with her. Now mind you, she had to deal with a very stubborn mother, and if she and I disagreed on what she should be doing or having, she found herself on the losing end of the argument, because…well, I was bigger than she was, and that was that. Still, she didn’t mind showing your just how she felt about the whole matter. You could always tell when she was really mad, because she would take a hold of one hand with the other, with a pretty sour expression, and then in unison, she would pull both hands to the same side of her little body in a twisting movement that pretty much said, “Don’t you EVER touch me again…in your life!!” Of course, she would eventually get over being mad, and you were soon accepted back into her good graces…until the next time you dared to disagree with her.
And as Amy’s big sister, Corrie can attest, Amy ruled the roost where the girls were concerned. Corrie didn’t stand a chance against Amy’s hot temper. Corrie always was a little more timid than Amy, and soft hearted where her baby sister was concerned. She probably could have taken Amy, if she had dared to try, but she never did, so Amy pushed her around a little bit…until they grew up a little bit that is. Age changes things a lot, because the girls are good friends now.
And sometimes, you really didn’t know that Amy was having a bad day or moment, until she blew up, and let you know. It might be something that would seem minor to most of us, but to Amy, it was a big problem. And while she can’t remember just why she was mad every time, she has come up with at least one explanation, even if it seems a little far fetched to me. She has decided that at least in this last picture…Corrie was stepping on her toe. Sure Amy…whatever you say!!