These are Times That Try Men's Souls

If you watched any of the Lord of the Rings movies, you’ll recognize the title of this blog. I took it from the scene in which Gandolf is speaking to Merry, a hobbit nearly overcome with anxiety and sorrow due to the seeming imminent defeat of good in the world. Nothing will ever be the same. Darkness has descended upon every living creature. In that moment it looks as though all hope is lost.

I can relate to this little hobbit and his feelings of despair.

I live with a three-year-old.

We have recently entered that unpleasant season of transition. If she is allowed to take a nap (or I should say forced, actually), her father and I must pay the price around 10:30pm when she is still wide awake and bouncing up and down while we beg her to be quiet and go to sleep, our bloodshot eyes barely staying open. If, on the other hand, we allow her to skip her usual afternoon nap, we must face the dreadful consequences:

A three-year-old who has not had a nap all day.

Every day this week so far, I have found my sweet child collapsed on the floor, the furniture, wherever she happened to land before sleep overtook her at last. She is out cold, dead to the world. It looks a lot like this:

And this:
And then the dog gets in on the action and plops himself down next to the peaceful child. He seems to live for these moments when he is not being poked and pinched and in general tormented by this little person. His eyes seem to say, "ahhh....tranquility. Safety. I can handle her like THIS."

I glance nervously around, weighing my options. Wake her and face the wrath of a 3-yr-old who has not had a long enough nap? Or let her sleep a little longer and choose to pay the piper late that night when she won’t go to bed?

Choosing to pay now rather than later, I begin to wake my sleeping angel. I push back her sweet curls from her cherub face. I kiss her round cheeks. I gently nudge her shoulder.

NOTHING. Mouth open, thumb hanging free (which is the true sign that she’s really out), she continues in dreamland.

Hmm. I move onto Phase 2. I scoop her into my arms and try to situate her limp body onto my lap. I say her name a little more loudly. I tickle her feet and tummy. Still NOTHING.

Okay, the minutes are ticking by and a successful bedtime is growing ever fainter. It is hardly a whisper of a dream at this point.

I call in the troops. Her big sisters come charging into the room, gleeful to administer their favorite waking up tactics on my unsuspecting child. They kind of pounce on her. Zerberts on her tummy, tickling her, pulling her toes, blowing in her ears…you can imagine how this goes over. Pretty much like a pro wrestler at a tea party.


The previously angelic sleeping cherub is now moaning and flailing her arms and legs wildly, eyes still closed but with an angry expression on her face. I can’t say as I blame her, but she pushed me to desperate measures. Her sisters back away, their work here finished.

And so, for the next half hour or so, I try to coax my baby girl into a happier mood. It is not easy. It's a lot like when Samwise Gamgee tries with all his might to save Frodo from the power of the ring. Just when I think all is lost and she has succomed to an evil mood for the rest of the night, sucked in by the power of fatigue, she gives me a small smile. And then, as a prize for all my effort, she does indeed find her happy heart again…right in time for bed. She is all smiles and hugs and kisses and every stall tactic you can think of as we try to put her to bed. She stares at the ceiling and sings to herself, "awake, awake, I'm still wide awake." It's as though she has jet lag and I wonder how on earth 10 minutes of sleeping 3 hours before has recharged her to this extent.

Ahh, these are times that try men’s souls for sure. My comparison to Lord of the Rings breaks down a little here. The bad guy is ultimately defeated in the movie, destroyed forever. Our sweet girl’s dark side returns every late afternoon, still seeking the “precious” (which in this case is a proper nap). Thankfully she is pretty darn cute and bewitches us with her charms during her more peaceful moments.

She is our “precious”, and we will brave the ends of the earth to bring her back to us each night. Even the fires of Mordor (or a tantrum on the floor) won't hold us down.

Do I sound enough like a sci-fi/fantasy geek yet? Two posts in a row!


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