Backseat Silence

September 20, 2011

It’s a quick drive home. 15, maybe 20 minutes with traffic. Sam and I are chatting away, talking about anything that comes to mind. Bella is playing in the back with something that seems to have captured her attention enough for us to have an entire uninterrupted conversation.

Neither of us realize it’s gotten very quiet in the back. Too quiet.

Deadly quiet.

Then I ask casually, like I do 3-4 times a trip, “Is Bella ok back there?” She’s behind me, rear facing so I can’t see her.

Sam glances in the rear view mirror, but the opposite mirror in the back that shows us her face is askew. “I don’t know,” he replies, a bit of panic setting in. We look at each other. She’s really quiet.

“Bella,” I call out, trying to keep my voice cheerful, “Honey, what does a lion say?”

No “RAAARRR” comes from her seat.

“Hey, Bella, is there a truck outside?”


“When did you hear her last?” I ask Sam, panicked.

He looks at me with sad eyes as we both fully realize what has happened. We have failed.

She’s taking a car nap.

I stifle back a sob. Sam shifts his weight in the seat to reach back and rock the car seat, saying, “Bella, wake up! Wake up little one!”

I keep a sharp eye on the road and as we start to drift I snap, “For heavens sake, you’re going to get us killed.” He counters back,”We can’t let her sleep! We’ll be home in 5 minutes and it’s only 11:30.” He’s right.

I try to reach behind me to see if I can touch her head. Sam turns up the music and we sing along loudly. I grab her water and bear, heaving them back behind me in hopes of landing in her lap. They bounce off the back of the seat and land on the floor, the bear mocking me with those horrid little beady eyes.

And on she sleeps.

I start to call out her name as Sam attempts to grab her hand hanging over the seat. No response.

Flooring it and trying to not pick a fight over who should have been keeping her awake while silently blaming the other, we pull into the garage and she groggily wakes up while being taken out of the car seat. I whisper to Sam that I’ll change her and lay her down as quick as possible – trying to keep her half asleep. It seems to work, she lays still on the changing table as I work fast – throwing off diapers and pants and shoes, then laying her in bed. She grabs her paci, I pull the blanket over her and tiptoe out.

We stand in the hall beaming at each other. She’s out. She’ll be out for a couple hours. We did it.

And then we hear the cat that got trapped inside her room let out a faint meow, so soft I can barely make it out, but which apparently is louder than the radio, us calling her name, our arguing, and more powerful than shaking the car seat.

She spends the next half hour bouncing and screaming in delight, while throwing everything out of the crib as I ponder simply bringing the entire carseat in next time and letting her sleep in it. Or driving around for two hours.

Or making sure the cat with the deafening meow is out of her room.


  • Jess

    September 27, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    HA! I love that yall tried to wake her up in the car.

  • Jennifer @ Also Known As the Wife

    September 21, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has done the cost-benefit analysis of driving around for two hours as opposed to risk waking a sleeping child in from the car.

  • molly

    September 20, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Yep, a car nap is the kiss of death for the real nap. It’s happened many a time to us. I curse the car nap. CURSE it!

  • Jen

    September 20, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Power naps are the worst!

  • Cole

    September 20, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Mommy has been known to sit in the parking lot in our car so that I can keep napping…

  • Adam

    September 20, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Maybe pack an air horn for future trips?

    Car naps are brutal, which is why we do everything possible to ensure they don’t happen. But when we fail, the day fails. Why can’t kids understand that 15 minutes does not equal 2 hours?

    Also, just another reason why I do not (and never will) like cats.

    1. Diana

      September 20, 2011 at 9:10 pm

      Air Horn. Noted on Target list.

      My cats are sneaky and it pisses me off.

  • Erika @NAMAmmaSTE

    September 20, 2011 at 9:09 am

    hehe… that sounds like me last week, only I was on my blue tooth talking and then realized he was out. I’ve left him in the car with windows open in the garage before with the inside door to the garage propped open, but those naps never last long and lately he wakes up as soon as I take the keys out of the ignition. Oh the adventures of parenting!

    1. Diana

      September 20, 2011 at 9:09 pm

      Sigh. Bella would never continue sleeping in the car for long or I would stay. She has this keen sense of stopping. I need some sort of a circular racetrack to drive around till she wakes up.

  • Melissa

    September 20, 2011 at 8:13 am

    My little guy (4…but still naps every single day)….is the best car napper…He can fall asleep in the car…transfer to the cart at Target or the grocery store…wherever….back to the car…back home….and to his bed and still sleep a couple of hours!

    When he’s out…he’s out! I love it!

    1. Diana

      September 20, 2011 at 9:07 pm

      Oh. I am BURNING WITH JEALOUSY at this.

      I need him to come show Bella how it’s done.

  • Brooke

    September 20, 2011 at 7:57 am

    LOL LOL LOL! We have fought so hard against car naps and it totally backfired on us when we drove up to Burning Man… she would NOT sleep in the car. For the entire 12 hour ride up or back. :/

    1. Diana

      September 20, 2011 at 9:07 pm

      When we need her to sleep – she won’t. The moment we stop the car she wakes up; red light, stop sign, a 5 mph speed slow down… It’s awful, You just can’t win.

  • Krista

    September 20, 2011 at 7:55 am

    hahah! Loved the part where you are chucking things into the backseat in an attempt to wake her up!

    Good story!

    1. Diana

      September 20, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      We try not to directly hit her – just a jolt. You know? Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

  • shell

    September 20, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Oh, I’ve been there! I’ve actually sat outside in the driveway, reading a book while my child finished a car nap b/c I needed that quiet time!

    1. Diana

      September 20, 2011 at 9:04 pm

      You know what? That sounds lovely. Note to self: bring a book in the car for next time. :p

  • Law Momma

    September 20, 2011 at 7:49 am

    J is atrocious at this. He NEVER goes back to sleep if he falls asleep in the car and then wakes up.

    So been there!! (Except, like BA, not with a cat.)

    1. Diana

      September 20, 2011 at 9:04 pm

      My cats bolt in her room and hide. I hate it. Usually they wait until 11pm at night when I’m just about asleep to announce that they want out.

  • Lisa @ Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy

    September 20, 2011 at 7:43 am

    my youngest would NEVER fall back asleep. I can’t even tell you how many hours of events I missed sitting in the car with him because he fell asleep five minutes before we got there but knew he’d be a bear if we woke him.

    1. Diana

      September 20, 2011 at 9:02 pm

      90% of the time, as soon as we stop the car she wakes up. Even at red lights. We have learned if we want her to keep sleeping we have to slow down WAY back so that we never really stop at a light.

  • Beth Anne

    September 20, 2011 at 7:17 am

    OMG, I laughed so hard that I have tears coming out of my eyes.


    Okay, not with a cat, but with a dog creeping across carpet OUTSIDE of his room & BAM! “Doggie?”

    1. Diana

      September 20, 2011 at 8:57 pm

      Seriously. Our children have selective hearing from birth on. I am telling you.

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