“You need a nap.” My mom stated, sprinkling dry yeast into a bowl of sugary warm water.
The tone of her voice told me that clearly she wasn’t going to negotiate with me. It wasn’t a request either. I was going to nap.
I shuffled and padded my way to the bedroom, stuck my little foot onto the frame of the box spring, hoisted myself onto the mattress and lay down. I was motionless. I was quiet. I was bored. I stared at the glittery white stuccoed ceiling. I examined the square frosted glass light cover. I gazed upon the off-white, blue, and lilac colored curtains. And then it happened. I fell asleep. At least it felt like I had fallen asleep because I was wide awake. Perhaps I had just taken a very long time to blink but I was done napping.
“I’m done,” I exulted.
“No. Get back to bed,” Mom replied, mixing foamy yeasty water into a bigger bowl.
I was surprised and confused. Surely I had dozed off for at least a little while. Again I lay on the bed. I tossed and turned and twisted the covers into fat ropes. I pulled them over my head. I wadded them up into a large lump at the foot of the bed. I wasn’t sleepy at all. But I was smart enough to know that I had to do some scheming to get out of this predicament. Rubbing my baby-fine blond hair messy and scrunching my clothes wrinkly I decided that I looked like I had napped.
“Hi Mom,” I sauntered lazily into the kitchen.
“What are you doing up?” Mom inquired, holding a sticky wooden spoon in her hand.
Staring at the gooey object I responded in a whisper, “I slept.”
Mom glanced at the clock and said, “I don’t think so. You have to sleep some more.”
This time I was determined to be more convincing. I rubbed my bluish-green eyes until they felt puffy then swirled my tongue around my mouth until I had gathered just enough spit to dab onto the inside corners of my eyes. I let it dry for a little while then added more messy hair to the ensemble. With my impromptu costume and stage make-up in place I went out of the room for what would be my final performance. The audience was not impressed.
“Glory-Be! You get yourself in bed and sleep!” Mom commanded while pressing her clenched fists into a huge mound of bread dough.
What sort of thoughts must have been going through her mind at that moment. I know that it didn’t matter whether or not I felt tired enough to sleep. I needed to nap and I know that she needed me to nap as well. She was not going to be conned by a clever preschool drama. Mom possessed a couple of essential skills I had yet to learn. They allowed her to detect if my claim of having napped was truthful: a sense of time and eyes that could see through walls. I know the last one is true because I have the same ability. Just ask Elizabeth.
I might have fooled my younger siblings into believing I had napped. I could even have succeeded at tricking someone who didn’t stick around the whole time. But my mom was a tougher sell. She was making bread dough and, as I have learned, it takes only about 20 minutes to work it into first-rising stage. Not long enough for me to have fallen asleep much less finishing my nap.
Last night as I relayed this story to Bill I remembered a question I had asked him the night before: why do people try to deceive others or even God. As I told the story I was holding Murron in her blankie and, knowing she hadn’t napped in the afternoon, I told her to shut her eyes. She tried holding them closed, her eyelids fluttering rapidly, but she was definitely still awake.
I thought of how many ways we try faking it. Sometimes it’s in the way we present ourselves to others. Little boys draw ball-point pen tattoos on their arms. Pre-teen girls stuff their bras with loose wads of Kleenex. We want to make a good impression. At other times it’s in exaggerating the truth, embellishing a story, adding a few details to life experiences just to make it sound more appealing. Most commonly it’s in simply allowing everyone around us believe that life is perfect – for us – and we have no problems to deal with at all.
God, having created time, also has a good sense about it. And He can see through walls too. He saw through mine when I was a teen trying to please my family and friends and failing miserably at it. When I was a young adult doing all the right things for all to see He knew my inner struggles with purity and shame. Then when the time came for me to face my ugliest self He was there to assure me that He knew everything I had done. I hadn’t fooled Him in the least. In fact, He actually allowed me to experience coming to the end of myself, the impertinent con-artist, and it was then that He could begin crafting His character in my heart.
Knowing what I know now, I would have taken that nap and enjoyed every minute.