The day was difficult to begin with. I had already acquired a bloody, fat lip complements of my 4-year-old’s head accidentally nailing me in the mouth and spent 45 minutes thrusting a yard stick down the laundry shoot in a ridiculous attempt to unclog a mass of clothing while my children fought with each other.
Joey was gone overnight at a conference, and I had visions of an early and easy bedtime for the kiddos so I could enjoy the peace and quiet of being alone. Of course, the opposite occurred.
Our 2-year-old son, because he is the way he is, had been trying to scale the walls of his crib and hurl himself over the edge for 3 days. We dreaded the toddler bed, because we knew, once emancipated from the bars of his crib, he would spend hours jumping in and out of bed, ransacking the room, disrupting his sister, throwing a party and finally jumping out the window in excitement from achieving sweet freedom.
But on this night, after 45 minutes of vigilantly babysitting Crosby from the darkness of the hall as he struggled to mount the rail of his crib, I saw him get dangerously close to victory. He teetered on the edge, his belly slung over the railing. His sister, whose bed is 10 feet away, yelled for the 30th time, “Mommy, he’s trying to get out!” and I gave up. It was 9:00. I turned the lights on, told them to get out of bed and play as I dragged the crib’s toddler bed conversion kit from the closet. Upon opening it, I realized I only had 1 of the 4 screws needed to get the job done. I scrounged in the basement and grabbed 3 more good enough screws and the only screwdriver I could see. Twenty minutes later, Crosby climbed into his bed all by himself.
“New night-night?” he asked me.
“Yes,” I said, “but you stay in the bed until Mommy gets you.”
He nodded, grinning, which I knew meant there was no way in hell he was staying in that bed. An hour later, at 10:30, after returning him to his bed 32 times, he gave up and finally fell asleep and I had a drink. At 5:00 a.m. I heard a noise and found him standing in the hallway. I returned him to bed, dug out a baby gate from the attic, and gave him a new jail that extended to the doorway of the room he shares with his sister.
The next morning, the very first thing he did was fall out of his new bed, slamming his eye on the corner of the wooden safety rail and getting a black eye.
Between his eye and my still swollen and scabby fat lip, we looked as though we’d been fighting each other. And we had been. It was a battle of wills, as it always is with my children, and we had both seen victory and defeat. The next night, I skipped right to having a drink while Joey returned Crosby to bed 26 times in the span of 50 minutes. At 4:30 in the morning, we found him laying in the middle of the floor saying, “Oh no, oh no,” after apparently getting out of bed and playing until he fell asleep on the carpet.
It’s been over a week and Crosby still spends about 45 minutes every night getting in and out of bed. We’ve tried both tactics of silently returning him to bed – no eye contact, no words – and letting him party it up with his stuffed animals and books until he collapses. I’m counting on the novelty of an unconfined bed wearing off soon. In fact, he only got out of bed 8 times tonight.
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