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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Mom still sleepless, but Dad naps well

Cheryl-Anne Millsap The Spokesman-Review

In my house you snooze or you lose. And I usually lose.

When my children were small, and I tried to take a much-needed nap or lie down long enough to wish a headache away, it was always a lost cause.

One memorable afternoon, I left the children, their father, and a bucket full of Legos in the den and escaped to my room.

Within minutes there was a commotion outside the door, a scuffle and a howl of pain. Then a voice bellowed,

“Mama, Robert’s not whispering and I told him he had to whisper ‘cause your head hurts and you’re tryin’ to sleep and then he yelled at me and said he was whispering and I was just a dumb-head, so I told him I was gonna tell on him for calling me a dumb-head and ‘cause he’s not whispering and then he was gonna punch me so I had to punch him first like the Golden Rule.”


“Robert didn’t whisper so I…

“No, what about the Golden Rule?”

“Oh. Well just like the Golden Rule says, I punched him before he could do that to me.”

“That’s not the… Oh, just go tell Daddy,”

“He’s watching the Weather Channel lady. And he’s snoring.”

“Wait, Daddy’s asleep?”

That’s how I learned you might not be able to wish a headache away. But you sure can get mad enough to forget you have one.

Over the years, not a lot has changed. When a bad cold waylaid me last week, I crawled into my bed Saturday night and didn’t get out until Tuesday.

I had a fever, a cough, a stuffy nose, and my head hurt. I felt like a train wreck. I just wanted a little time to rest and recuperate. I needed to sleep.

Fortunately, I have big kids now, not a house full of babies. They can get by without me for a couple of days, right? Wrong.

As soon as they realized I was down, and in that way an easy target, my bedroom buzzed like a busy hotel lobby bar with a happy hour special and a revolving door.

Every hour or so, a head would appear and hurl a non sequitur into the dark room.

“My shoes don’t fit anymore,” someone said.

“I don’t care.”

“Well, can we go to the mall and get some more?”

“I’m sick.”

“You can stay in the car and sleep.”

“Ask your father to take you.”

“I can’t. He’s asleep on the sofa.”

“Go Away!”

The next day it was the same thing.

“Uh, something broke in the refrigerator and I didn’t do it,” someone said.

“Something inside the refrigerator is broken?”

“Uh, huh.”

“Like the motor?”

“No. It’s the lid to the dish with the leftover stuffed pepper in it. Should I wake up Dad?”

“Is anyone hurt? Wait, your dad’s asleep?”

“Uh, huh.”

“Go away.”

“Can I still eat the pepper?”


In three days of bed rest, I got very little actual rest. In fact I saw more of my children than I usually do. They let me know when the dog threw up, and personally notified me every time someone ate the last cookie or emptied a bag of chips and then put the bag back in the pantry. Always considerate, they were careful not to wake their napping father with these things.

My fever faded but I’m still doing a slow burn. Why do I always have to be the designated alert adult?

Then I remembered the simple logic behind my daughter’s words. It’s all a matter of getting there first. From now on I intend to live by the also-golden rule: “Nap before others unless you want them to nap before you.” Next time he’ll lose and I’ll snooze.

If that doesn’t work, I’ll punch him.

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