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May 30th, 2010:

There’s a Nap for That


I finally got an appointment with a local sleep specialist last week. I’ve never been a strong sleeper, and I’ve been having intermittent problems sleeping, some of them severe, since the collapse of Coriolis 2001-2002. There’s some (small) possibility that I have apnea, even though I sleep on my side and not on my back. I’m going to go in for a sleep study later this summer (when my allergies are better) and this was the initial consult.

The specialist went through all the usual sleep disturbance stuff with me, mostly things I’d read about many times in many places. One of the first things on his list he said briefly and emphatically: “No naps!”

Carol and I about cracked up.

For two reasons, actually. First of all, telling Jeff Duntemann not to take daytime naps is like telling Jeff Duntemann not to code in C++. No problem, Doc! I’m just not built that way. I can sleep during the day only when I’m sick, drugged, or both. (No comment on C++.)

The other reason goes back to our last couple of trips to Chicago. Our niece Julie, like her (slightly) older sister Katie Beth a strong-willed little girl, decided at some point earlier this year that She Will Not Take Naps. I teased her about it several times this past winter:

“Julie! How about taking a nap!”

“No!” She clutched her favorite blanket and made Angry Face at me.

“Just a little nap?”

“No nap!”

This went on for most of an evening in Gretchen’s family room, until I decided that I was in danger of jeopardizing my relationship with the person who would someday decide the fate of my legendary tube collection, and knocked it off.

But by our next trip, winter had faded to a glorious spring, and Carol and I did a lot of chasing around in Gretchen’s back yard with Katie, Julie, and the dogs. Carol has the Kid Gene and I do not; I have no intuitive grasp of what very small girls consider fun. I spin them around and roll down the hill with them, but I’m never entirely sure what they might enjoy. And the trying is nothing if not aerobic. So at one point, a little out of breath, I just lay down on the hillside, laid my hands over my chest, and stared serenely at the very blue sky. Julie, now 2, came up to me and looked at me quizzically.

“Julie, Uncle Jeff is taking a nap.”

Without a word or even much hesitation, Julie lay down on the grass beside me and laid her hands over her chest.

Lead by example, I always say.