There is a magical thing called a nap drive. If you’ve ever had a sleep-resistant small child, you might be familiar with its strange and wondrous spell.
A nap drive is a simple concept: You buckle your tired child into a car seat and drive (and drive and drive, if needed) until your child falls asleep. You drive aimlessly and, if you want to be economical, you drive slowly. Since there is no physical destination that needs to be reached, nap driving doesn’t feel like any other form of driving. There’s something zen about it. What’s the point of having a Point B anyway? Just slowly loop your way from Point A right back to Point A. Embrace the quarantine ethos. Home is where the heart is anyway.
Going places is for suckers.
Soundtrack selection is crucial to any good nap drive. The music can’t be bombastic or dissonant. Drums should be avoided as much as possible. But you don’t have to listen to Raffi on infinite repeat either. The ideal is to find music that both appeals to the parent in the driver seat and soothes the baby in the car seat. Introspective serenity is my vibe of choice for these drives. And for me, no one does introspection or serenity better than an ambient band named Hammock.
This week I savored the distinct pleasures of both a sunny nap drive (bright, vivid, extroverted, peaceful) and a rainy nap drive (drab, reflective, introverted, just as peaceful), and each day I chose the Hammock album that was most conducive to that day’s weather palate. If you don’t yet know the joy of discovering optimal weather/music pairings, then I feel sorry for you. Truly, I do.
I’m fortunate to live in a quiet rural area. There’s a soul-settling, heart-fortifying joy in driving slowly down empty backroads, past horses and cows and sheep and new baby lambs and protective dogs. No places to go, no people to see. Zero billboards. No big box stores. Just languid and newly verdant farmland as far as the eye can see. My own private Mayberry. (Or my own private countryside just outside Mayberry, to be exact.)
But the highest beauty of a nap drive is the nap-taker herself: Our sweet, spunky, wide-eyed, 18-month-old girl, who has a hard time slowing down enough from her living room adventures to willingly surrender to sleep. But for some reason, when I buckle her into in the car seat and start the ignition, she can zonk out within a matter of minutes. Sometimes as little as 40 or 50 seconds. Who knew that the hum of the minivan was the ultimate cure for insomnia?
Catching glimpses of Violet’s sleepy little face in the rearview mirror is pure fatherly delight. Watching as her tiny eyelids start to droop, then bounce back open to gaze up at the sky once more, then sag under the weight of her exhaustion, her long eyelashes at last coming to rest on her smooth rosy cheeks after a jam-packed morning of revelry.
That’s the exquisite joy of taking a nap drive with my tiny napping co-pilot. In this age of roiling stress and uncertainty, I wish I could share this tiny delight with everyone.
But hopefully in some tiny way, I just did.