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I was myself last night, but I fell asleep on the mountain, and they’ve changed my gun, and everything’s changed, and I’m changed, and I can’t tell what’s my name, or who I am!”

-Rip Van Winkle

For much of my life I believed that the only people who took naps were old men and little boys. Naps were something that you took if you were made to or didn’t have enough energy to stay awake throughout the day. As I got older and the stresses of work and responsibilities of raising a family began to crowd into my busy life, I surprisingly found naps appealing. I began sneaking in thirty minute cat naps on my lunch hours and on my days off I worked hard at a forty-five minute to one hour version.

I’ve talked with many people over the years who say that they can’t take naps; that if they do they won’t be able to go to sleep at night. Thankfully, I don’t have that issue. I’ve also read that those who take regular naps can be expected to live longer than those who don’t. I don’t nap twenty years like Rip Van Winkle, but it seems that by napping I can expect to add a few years to my life.

It wasn’t always this way however. Once I was vehemently opposed to napping as the following illustration from my childhood demonstrates. Even though Mom thought napping was good for us (not for future life longevity, but more to get us out of her hair for an hour), my brother and I did not concur.

Russell’s mom was not one to mince words when lunch-time rolled around as she called from the back door, “Ronnie and Timmy, you need to go home now. Russell has to eat lunch.” We thought that there might be an invitation to lunch and I said, “Can we just wait out here in the backyard until he’s finished eating?” “Russell’s done playing for the day. He has to take a nap.” We thought the nap thing was pretty funny (although it was obvious by the look on his face that Russell didn’t), “He has to take a nap. Ha, Ha.”

As we returned home from Russell’s, we ate lunch and then took our naps. Only, we didn’t take naps, Mom just assumed we did. As she tiptoed out of the room and locked the door (from the outside, so we couldn’t get out), we waited a few minutes and then climbed up on the bunk beds and slowly and quietly climbed out of the bedroom window.

Outside of the two front bedrooms were two ledges, presumably for flower boxes, and under the ledges were some flowering bushes that we named “bee bushes”, because they always had bees buzzing around them. Once out the window, the next step was the ledge. From the ledge you had to jump over the “bee bush” to get to the yard. We must not have been destined to be in the Olympics in the long jump competition, because we seldom made it over the bush; rather, we landed in the bush (Dad was not overly impressed when returning home to find his landscaping looking like a tornado had gone through).

You might be asking yourself this question, “Did Mom ever figure out that the boys were not napping in their beds?” I’m glad you asked. As Mom was out front watering her flowers, Ronnie rode by on his bike. Shortly afterward, Timmy rode by on his bike. As if nothing was amiss, Timmy gleefully said as he rode by, “Hi Mommy.” Not realizing what had just happened Mom replied, “Hi Timmy.”

I just completed the Father’s Day weekend and managed to squeeze in one nap per day. I’m proud to say that I’m now a nap aficionado and if you would just take a little time out of your day and give it a try, I think you too will become a devotee the same as me. And you don’t have to be a little boy or old man to take advantage.

*Story excerpt from “Little Heathens,” available on Amazon and in stores June 18th.