Naps and Snacks

By Major Van Harl, USAF Ret.

My eight grade daughter had a speech and drama class project where the teacher took some of the students to an Altus grade school and had the drama students perform for the little kids. In a later conversation with my daughter she informed me how lucky the younger children had it. "They get naps and snacks, life was good in grade school" she advised me. I informed her it's "heck" having to grow up.

When we first got to Altus, middle school was set up like the junior and senior high school. I don't think she was still taking naps in fifth grade but for sure the pace picked up dramatically in middle school. My daughter is an Air Force brat and has so far in her young life attended school in Texas, Mississippi, New Mexico and now Oklahoma.

My father the Navy Master Chief offered the same pattern of K-thru-12 education for my sisters and me. I attend eleven schools in order to get to my senior year in high school. Which included a three room school house in a small Scottish village.

One thing you learn early in life as a military member's child is, change is constant. You will move and you will change schools. In my Navy days we moved every two years, which explains the eleven school names on my report cards. In the Air Force they try to keep you at an air base three to four years, but the more senior an Air Force kid's military parent is, the odds are the more they will move.

On a number of occasions I changed schools in the middle of the school year. You want to talk about stress. The pecking order had already been established in the classroom long before I got there. Everyone in class already knew what the teacher liked and disliked. They already know who "Marsha" the annoyingly smart girl, who had all the answers was (you know, the one who throws off the grade curve). And they already knew who was the class bully.

Getting inserted into that situation in the middle of a school year always put you behind the power curve. I think naps left me after first grade which for me was good, because I could never go to sleep or even be quiet. So nap time usually got me in trouble.

I re-discovered naps in ninth grade. I would come home from school and go to bed. At first it scared my mother because she thought something was wrong. The truth was I was growing and I needed more sleep. Come to think of it my daughter will be a freshman next year. Maybe this nostalgic yearning for naps and snacks is as much biological as it is emotional. However, short of pulling the breaker switch for her bedroom, I bet I cannot get her to turn out her lights before 10:00 pm.

I guess the good point is at least she is talking to me about this issue. Some times, for short periods, I am the popular parent in the home, but since I refuse to go shopping with my daughter I will never be the most popular parental unit.

I remember seeing some community service commercial years ago on TV where the dad takes his teenage daughter out to eat so the two can have some quality bonding time. It seamed hokey at the time but it does work. If there is nobody else but the two of you and you can manage to have the cell phone turned off, I would suggest you can have a pleasant and productive conversation with your very soon to be adult child. I don't have a son but I am sure this eating and talking thing will also work with them.

As a shameless plug for one of my favorite restaurants in town, Roma's on Main St. is now serving an excellent breakfast. Their smaller dining room, with high-back booths lends its self well to warm, candid dad / daughter (or son) talks. Take your teenager there before school some morning and I can almost guarantee you, this will improve the communication skills of both parent and child.

Your teen does not get naps at school anymore and most likely you hope they would stop snacking, but the major issue is increasing the positive communication between parent and child. They are all going to go away someday, you just want to make sure they still return once in a while and actually talk to you, not just ask for money.

Back to the Editorial Page

Copyright 2007 by Major Van Harl, USAF Ret. All rights reserved.

Flag Ribbon