Friday, 3 December 2010

The Mortal Enemies of Naptime by Kate

How many miles (kilometres, sorry - we are on the continent, after all) have Theo and I walked in the name of Rosie's precious daytime sleep? We've certainly got to know the roads around our barrio very well and have also pushed a snoozing Rosie across the very heart of Madrid, passing such landmarks as Sol, Plaza Mayor, the Ventas Bullring and the Retiro Park. As long as we're properly attired for the weather, don't need to empty our bladders and Rosie co-operates by actually nodding off reasonably quickly, then it's an enjoyable way to get a bit of fresh(ish) air and exercise.

But it's hardly what you would describe as a relaxing stroll. Nope. The savvy pushchair navigator has to be constantly alert to all the circling hazards that can kill a nap without a second thought. They are many and various and include:

1) Stopping the pushchair. Getting the timing right at pedestrian crossings is a tricky business and Theo and I have both been observed running full tilt to catch the green man, walking v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y to avoid stopping at the red, or doing figure-eights or back-and-forths on the braille pavements to keep that essential forward motion going at all times.

2) The changing weather. Manic re-positioning of the parasol to avoid sun rays hitting Rosie's reposing eyes; enveloping the buggy in the rain cover (or indeed removing it); hastily improvising wind-breaks with bits of string and bulldog clips... all of this without stopping (see point 1).

3) Sudden sharp noises. During the deeper part of her sleep cycle, Rosie can sleep through pretty much anything. But when she's moving from one cycle to the next, typically at the half-hour mark or thereabouts, any number of sonic interruptions can effectively assassinate the remaining nap. These include:
*dogs barking
*toddlers throwing tantrums
*vehicles tooting (junctions are dangerous - Spaniards tend to be very impatient with cars that don't move forward the instant the light turns green, or preferably, a second or two earlier)
*air-brakes (buses are the worst culprits)
*emergency sirens
*chatting Spaniards (they tend to talk VERY loudly)
*chatting Africans (they tend to talk EVEN MORE loudly)
*mopeds and motorbikes
*baby-loving passers-by ("Que cosita!!" They shout at our sleeping daughter, ignoring our pleading expressions as Rosie's eyelids start to flicker alarmingly)
*buskers (I'm a music lover, but I could cheerfully kick a hole through any accordion threatening my baby's sleep. It usually is an accordion.)

Any of the above can send us skedaddling down side-roads, sprinting across parks, executing 180 degree hand-brake turns with the buggy - or any means necessary to avoid Rosie being woken prematurely.

Which is why an hour and a half of successful sleep from Rosie while out and about tends to feel like a mission as we set out and imparts a glow of satisfaction when we return with the snooze quota fulfilled. But it's no wonder that after the initial stampede to use the loo, we buggy-navigators need to sink gratefully onto the sofa with a calming cup of tea. Those walks are almost always fraught with incident from the most innocent-seeming sources. Strolling has never felt so adventurous.

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