Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Motherhood and More: Child takes advantage of toddler bed freedom*

We didn’t have a choice, really. Once she figured out that she could swing her long legs over the side of her crib and jump down, unhurt, it was all over.

She tested the waters, first figuring out how to fling herself back in headfirst, but unable to find a way back out again. But then, after a particularly difficult bedtime routine, I heard her little feet running on the wooden floors above my head, and I knew she was picking up whatever toys she could, whatever blankets she could, to bring back to her bed.

I tried to ignore it, to pretend like it was not time for what I knew it was time for. But I couldn’t do that for long. It was time to transition my daughter to a toddler bed.

I don’t know if you’re aware from all of my complaining or not, but my daughter is especially challenging. It’s not that she’s bad, she just requires a lot of one-on-one attention and when she doesn’t get what she thinks she deserves, she acts out by spitting on the floor. Or smacking her brother. Or spitting on her brother and then smacking him. So I was understandably worried about this new step.

The first night, in a fit of foolishness, I decided that I didn’t have to zip her pajamas up backward like we normally do to prevent her from undressing and peeing all over her bed. Apparently, in my mind, a toddler bed meant that she was automatically ready to get out of bed in the dark and go to the bathroom by herself like her brother does.

Don’t feel bad. My husband thought I had lost my mind, too.

So at 10 p.m., when I checked on her to make sure she was actually in her bed, which she was, I also noticed she was wet. And her blankets were wet. And some of the plethora of toys that she’d collected in the hour or so that she’d been roaming in her room before she fell asleep were wet, too. And sheets, of course, those were wet as well.

So I made my husband help me clean her up because he’s the only one who can force her to calm down and sleep when she’s refusing every attempt I make. He only grumbled a tiny bit about how he knew this would happen. I appreciated that.

We cleaned her up and changed her sheets and zipped her up backward in her pajamas to keep her from taking them off again and I snuck downstairs and left my husband to deal with an unhappy 2-and-a-half-year-old. Luckily he was only stuck up there for a couple minutes. Otherwise I would probably still be privy to eye rolling and heavy sighing. Jokingly, of course. Maybe.

So the first night was eventful, but once she was fully asleep she was fine. Naptime, however, is not so enjoyable. I hear her roaming around upstairs, running into her brother’s room, running after the cat, running to find another book or toy to bring into bed with her. And she even came all the way downstairs while I was on the phone interviewing a source for the newspaper.

Sorry, source. That noise was me surprised to see my daughter, who was supposed to be sleeping, or at least pretending to sleep while playing in her room.

And bedtime, now that she’s discovered the full extent of her freedom, is equally enjoyable. She likes to run to her brother’s room and jump into bed with him, or run to the top of the stairs and yell down at her father and me. Or run after the cat.

I’m hoping that once the newness wears off a bit she’ll be better behaved about the whole thing. However I don’t expect her to stop running after the cat any time soon.

That’s just who she is.

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on March 27, 2013.

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