Naptime in PNG

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Once upon a time, I had a very specific naptime routine that I followed with my kids. It was similar, I think, to a lot of parents’ routines across the United States of America.

I would (try) to calm the little crazies down around 1:00pm and then lay them down in a cool, dark quiet room in their cool, dark, quiet beds, and turn on some kind of ambient noise like a fan or a humidifier to cover up all the outside noises.

Let me tell you something.

Cool, dark rooms do not exist in Papua New Guinea. At least, not in our house. And quiet? No way.

Naptime here looks quite different.

For one, we live on the equator in a rainforest. Most days, since we don’t have air conditioning, it is very warm and humid in our house. That’s where the ‘cool’ part of naptime does not exist.

Because of the heat and humidity, we leave our windows open pretty much all the time to catch the occasional breeze and to encourage airflow. Black-out curtains don’t exactly line the shelves here and if they did, we wouldn’t use them because they might block too much of the breeze. That is where we lose the ‘dark’ part of naptime.

And as for the ‘quiet’ part, well, when you live with your windows open, you live with singing birds and squawking bats and rattling lawnmowers and crowing roosters and honking vehicles…you get the picture. It’s not quiet. And while there is always a fan on (unless the power is out), it’s not there for ambient noise.

Days one and two and three, I wasn’t sure this was going to work out. But it turns out that children really are very adaptable creatures.

Ness sleeping

Ness sleeping

Three months in, my 2 year old and 4 year old have no problem sleeping hot, bright, noisy rooms.  True, they might sleep with less clothing because of the heat. And yes, it probably takes them a few minutes longer to get sleepy because of the light. But the all that outside noise–bats and all–have become their ambient noise.

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Here is what our house looks like at naptime. See Susanna and Benaiah playing legos? See that open door behind them with the child sprawled across the bed? Naptime. Doors open, light everywhere, noises galore.

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As for the other kid, his room doesn’t even have a door that closes. Or one whole wall, for that matter. Although, we do most days, close the curtains.

Our kids, like all of us, have found ways to adjust.

The other day, when asked about the heat, I heard my seven year old tell his grandma, “Well, most days the weather’s perfect.” It’s a difference, I think, between accepting and living in the present–with what we have now–than in the past with the things we used to have. And it is a perspective I have to remind myself to have every day here.

I’ve learned a lot since getting here–how to navigate a third world transportation system, negotiate a third world market, and communicate in another language.

But I’ve learned a little something about contentment from my children.

1 Comment

  1. Well, for the love! I cried. For a lot of reasons. I am grateful that you have the gift of writing so that you can share these things in a clever way. I thankful for photography so that my sweet, sweet babies’ faces can be so close. I’m thankful to see the inside of your house in a fresh way. I’m grateful that children adapt…and that we can follow their lead. I’m grateful that Benaiah has parents who teach him to have a joyful heart and that when he said to me “most days it’s perfect, Grandma”, he meant it! I’m grateful, my sweet Cameron, that we share the love of a heavenly Father whose mercies are new every day! I’m grateful that you have a teacheable heart and that you understand the word “contentment”. I love you all so much and praise God that you are on your way.

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