It does exist! The mythical perfect time to put a child down to sleep, wherein he will give you a happy, drowsy smile, turn his head to the side, and moments later be sleeping the sweet, innocent slumber of an individual who poops in his own pants.
I have seen this rare beast approximately twice. You must not startle it. If you say anything like "I think LO has actually gone to sleep," after a few moments of blessed silence, do not be surprised if the child begins to scream bloody murder for no reason before you've finished speaking. Because the perfect time to put a child to sleep does not like to be acknowledged. This mythical napping window will close suddenly for no reason, and then you're in for it. The child will stare at you with pink, overtired eyes and dare you to try to get him to fall asleep. That's what most days are like in the B household.
What surprises me on a daily basis is how quickly LO goes from perfectly happy and rested baby to screaming demon of overtired angst. I have to pay close attention to see if LO is passing through the optimum napping window (whose average length is approximately .024 micronanomoseconds), because once he reaches the other side, nothing will help.
And we have quite the arsenal of soporific aids. LO will only nap in his swing or on a handy parent. If there is no motion or cuddling, the child is awake. This works just fine except when you need to do something other than hold a child for the day. I'm trying to figure out how to write telepathically so I can work on my freelancing while holding the sleeping child. So far in my experiments with telepathy, all I've been able to do is determine that Jedi mind tricks do not work on J. ("You want to clean the catbox...")
So, most days I strap LO into his swing during the brief time in between giggling and eye-rubbing. (Of COURSE it's too late once he's rubbing his eyes. Don't you know that eye-rubbing is a precursor to screaming in anger? In some cultures, rubbing your eyes is how you give someone the finger). Then, we put on LO's favorite sleepytime album: Afro-Harping by Dorothy Ashby. J and I have gone from being delighted that LO really seems to like jazz, to somewhat weary of his preferred album, to ready to commit some act of hostility when we hear the opening strains of the album. But the kid is more likely to fall asleep to Dorothy than he is to anyone else, so we keep it on Dorothy. My fear is that J will eventually pull a Noriega and agree to surrender and be extradited, just to get the music to stop.
In addition to the motion and the music, LO also seems to like his Eeyore rattle/lovey/awesomeness, and that will often keep him occupied for quite a while. (Of course, in baby speak, quite a while is not more than 30-45 seconds.) Finally, there is the bottle of water trick. LO refuses to take a pacifier anymore. I'm not sure that really bothers me, except when he's so tired I can see his tonsils when he yawns. I know that a pacifier would soothe the little stubborn boy to sleep, but he refuses to take it. (Unfortunately, I have only myself to blame for this. According to J, I'm the most stubborn person he has ever met, and of course, the universe loves irony, so I've got the stubbornest kid in the world. And when he's decided he's done with something, he's done with it. Does this sound familiar to anyone?) Luckily, he also takes after me in that he is always thirsty. So, he'll take a water bottle and the sucking motion of drinking will often help him drift off to sleep.
Except when it doesn't.
On those days, when I've missed the comically short window, I wish I could climb in the swing and listen to music and play with Eeyore and drink water. I know that I would be able to fall asleep under those conditions.
Unless I decided I'd had enough for the day. Then nothing short of several large men sitting on me and holding my eyes closed would get me to feign sleep. Because once you've decided on something, you need to stick to your guns. I'm sure LO would agree with me.
J is in for it, isn't he?