If You Give a Mom a Nap

If You Give a Mom a Nap

By Katherine Almy

Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 1.59.48 PM(with apologies to Laura Numeroff)

If you give a mom a nap, she’ll wake up refreshed and in a good mood. She’ll probably let you bounce on the bed as she’s getting up. After you’ve bounced her out of bed, she’ll be ready to play hide-and-go-seek with you.

Playing hide-and-go-seek will make her hot, and she’ll want to go outside. She’ll be happy to trudge up and down the street with you while you zoom around on your toy fire truck. When you fall off your truck and skin your knee, she’ll pick you up very gently and kiss you tenderly on the boo-boo.

After she’s kissed your boo-boo, it’ll feel better and you’ll see the swing in the neighbor’s tree. Mom will joyfully push you on the swing for fifteen minutes.

All of that pushing will make her hungry, so you’ll run inside and she’ll fix you a snack. Just as she’s sitting down to eat her snack, you’ll remember that you’re thirsty, too, so she’ll jump up to get you a glass of milk.

As she’s settling down to take a bite of her snack, you’ll spill your entire glass of milk. She’ll give you a look, but she’ll get up and get a rag for you to clean up your mess. You’ll push the rag around a bit and she’ll clean up the rest.

When she sits down to finally eat her snack, you’ll remind her that your glass is now empty and you need some more milk. With a sigh, she’ll get up to get it for you.

When you’re done with your snack, you’ll hop down from your chair and run to the electrical outlets in the living room. Mom will leave her mostly uneaten snack to make sure that you don’t electrocute yourself. You’ll run away into the other room, giggling and looking over your shoulder to see if she’s chasing you.

While you’re running and not looking where you’re going, you’ll run smack into a chair. You’ll scream and holler. Mom will roll her eyes and tell you it was your own damn fault, but then she’ll feel bad and kiss your boo-boo. She’ll suggest that you do something quiet for a little while, like reading a book.

You’ll pick out a Thomas the Tank Engine book. Listening to the story will remind you of your train set, and you’ll ask her to pull it out for you. She’ll get out the train set and help you set up a track. You’ll ask her to run the track all the way into the bedroom. You don’t have nearly enough track pieces for that, but when she looks into the bedroom, she’ll see the bed.

And chances are, when she sees the bed, she’ll want to take a nap.

Brain, Child (Summer 2006)

The Baby: Word Problems

The Baby: Word Problems

Inspired by G.A. Ingersol’s “Test


You have 30 minutes to answer these word problems.


1.  The baby must eat every two hours during the day and every three hours at night. This is from start of feeding to start of feeding. If the baby takes forty-five minutes to eat and it takes an additional seven minutes to burp him and change his diaper, how many times does his mother shower in the first month of his life?


2.  The baby is not as sleepy as the literature suggests. One night he sleeps for two hours, then two more hours, than three twenty-five minute chunks. The next night he wakes up twice as many times, but the total amount of sleep is the same. The third night he sleeps for four glorious hours, but then refuses to go back to sleep at all. By night five, how many baby sleep books have the parents desperately consumed in their quest to get their child to match the peacefully sleep babies on their covers?


3.  The baby has a fever. That much is clear to the mother before she even picks up the thermometer. She can tell just from pressing her lips to his smoldering forehead. But the doctor wants to know how high. The first reading, taken under the armpit, says 101.4. She tries again to confirm and gets 100.0. The forehead thermometer gives three different readings: 102.1, 101.0, 98.8, but she’s very skeptical of that third one, since the baby was swatting at the thermometer with his chubby fist. Assuming she reports an average of all of these temperatures to the patient pediatrician who is waiting on the line, how confident will she feel administering the suggested dose of infant acetaminophen?


4.  The baby is pointing at an apple and saying “ke-chaw” over and over and over again in his insistent little voice. The father has asked him if he’s hungry, but he says no. He doesn’t seem to want to touch the apple, but he goes on saying “ke-chaw, ke-chaw, ke-chaw.” The apple is green, average in size, with a longish stem and some yellow dappling on the top third. The baby is probably:

a) over-tired

b) a genius

c) lying about being hungry

d) teething


5.  The baby’s cold abates, but now something else is bothering him. It could be teething or nightmares or a sudden fear of the dark. In any case, he is waking in the night and it takes, on average, forty minutes to get him to go back to sleep. Assume the parents divide the nighttime wakings evenly. If the father works long days as a high-school chemistry teacher and the mother works evenings and weekends in a restaurant, and the baby wakes an average of three times per night, how much will the parents spend on couples’ counseling in the subsequent year?


6.  The potty training books are firmly in two camps. No, three camps. No seven camps. Perhaps each is in its own camp. The first one says to begin at eighteen months. The second at twenty-two months. The third says to start on the baby’s second birthday. Another says to wait until the baby is ready. Another says to wait until the parents are ready. One says to bribe the child with M&Ms and special underpants. Another says to keep the child naked all day. Another says to gate the child in a room with a tile floor. There are others, too. So many ideas. If two of them are written by pediatricians, and two by child psychologists, and one isn’t even really a book, but more of a blog, whose advice should the mother and father heed?

a) the author with the most letters after his name

b) the one that suggests doing what the parents wanted to do anyway

c) the one with the happiest-looking baby on the cover

d) whatever inklings and inclinations come from their own guts


7.  The little flowerpot is covered in neon-colored pom-poms. There are twenty-six in all. Seven of them are green, four are yellow, six are blue, two are pink. An unspecified number are orange and purple. Assuming the baby spent an hour and a half making sure each of the pom-poms was stuck on just right, and given that it’s not even Mother’s Day or her birthday or anything, how long will it take the mother to tear up before pulling him into her warm embrace and whispering thank you, sweet boy into his hair, which smells like sugar and sunshine and just a tiny, tiny bit like Elmer’s glue?