Milestone: The Big Girl Bed
Last week we reached a milestone. Isabella successfully climbed out of her crib for the first time. I know a lot of kids do it way earlier (she’ll be three at the end of April) but not ours. Izzy was strategic about it - she hatched a plan and waited until she knew she could trust her body to back it up. I love that about her. She’s adventurous, but not foolish.
Joe and I had just put her down when we heard a soft drop, then a pitter patter of little feet, and a clunky turn of the noisy bedroom doorknob. Sure enough, there she was, looking a little sheepish, like she didn’t know quite how we’d react.
You climbed out! I exclaimed involuntarily, a big smile on my face. We’ve been waiting for this moment; everyone said it would come.
Reading me, she beams, her Mona Lisa gaze blooming into a full-on toothpaste grin. She grabs my hand and leads me excitedly back to her room, pointing to the floor just under in front of her crib, where I see all her fluffy friends piled wide and deep. She’d thrown everything inside the crib overboard, making a big cushion to break her fall. I suspect she’s been working on this plan for months. We’d often see her on the bedroom camera, tossing her cribmates out meticulously, one by one.
“Soft!!” she proclaims loudly, and smiles even wider. She’s so proud.
I am, too. I’ve gotta hand it to her; she’s clever. We congratulate her thoroughly. It feels like the right thing to do. This reminds me of when she was about 19 months old. She was begging for a banana that was out of her reach on the counter. I kept saying no -she’d already had one earlier, and they constipate her (TMI, sorry). She promptly waddled over to the step stool in the corner, dragged it over (painstakingly) by herself, climbed up and got the banana. I congratulated her then, too. My thinking? If you have that much ingenuity, you just earned yourself that banana, Kid.
But...with this crib situation, we were faced with a dilemma. Now that we know she can climb out, what do we do?
Unsure of exactly how to handle it for the night, we decide to take a cue from her. Joe gets the couch cushions from the living room and lines them up along the bottom of the crib in case she goes for it again. We tuck her in, asking her to please stay in her crib and go to sleep. Ha!
Perhaps we shouldn’t have been so encouraging. Ten seconds after we close the door she’s hauling herself up and over once again. I think we just turned this into a game. We go back in, this time dropping the side of the crib down. At least we’ll make it easier for her.
We tuck her back in and not three minutes later she’s at it again. Now she’s getting cocky, dumping herself over with abandon.
We put her back in. She does it again. And again.
Aiy! This isn’t going to work.
We decide we better take the side off; this could definitely get dangerous, especially as she gets tired. Only problem is now she’s got complete freedom, sweet freedom - she doesn’t even have to work for it! A few seconds after we leave, she’s up and out, turning on the light, climbing on the chair to reach the white noise machine, pulling out books, playing with the toy castle, rummaging through her dresser drawers, on and on, all night long…
Suffice it to say, we didn’t sleep much that night. We also had a near heart attack when we realized now that she can roam free, she could possibly lock herself in her room accidentally. Luckily we had a door knob cover tucked away in our laundry room from when we were certifying for foster care. We secure it over the knob, making it impossible for her to open, and hope for the best.
The next day we decide to brave IKEA; it simply has to be done. For Joe and I, a trip to IKEA is not to be taken lightly; one or both of us inevitably ends up having a near nervous breakdown at some point during the trip. All the possibilities, the people, the stuff...not to mention the maze-like layout, sneakily reminiscent of the casinos in Vegas...they’re not letting you outta there until you’ve gone through the ENTIRE place.
And we’ve yet to do this with a kid.
We put on our energetic armor and spend what feels like hours picking out the perfect toddler bed, surviving a momentary power outage due to the Biblical rain storm we’ve braved to get here, only to (finally!) get downstairs to the warehouse and discover - guess what?! - they’re sold out. Well, of course they are.
We proceed to pick out another one as Isabella alternates between begging for us to go “fast!” in the shopping cart, and spontaneously climbing out and dodging through the cavernous rows, playing what she thinks is a super fun game of hide and seek.
We’re approaching breakdown territory. Everything is in a different language and there’s no signs that say “This goes with this”. To make matters worse, the mattresses are on a completely different aisle than the bed frames, as are the wooden slats that the mattress rests upon. We finally agree on another option, gather all the pieces and then suddenly realize the bedding we labored over previously will not fit this one. Oh my God.
We almost leave ten times but decide to push through. We need a bedtime solution and we’re not leaving here until we get one. We manage to figure it out, taking a chance that most of what we grabbed upstairs will fit (some of it does; sadly another IKEA trip is in our near future to return the rest).
By this time we’re famished. On the way out we scoop up a slice of pizza, two hot dogs, two veggie dogs and a drink for $6.25 (Ok, that was a score!) and we’re on our way home.
Luckily, our 21 year old nephew is staying with us for the month and offers a hand at putting the thing together (Super nice kid! I am no help in this department).
Aaaaaand, voilà: Big girl bed.
At first Isabella’s not sold. She approaches the thing trepidatiously and refuses to even sit on it. Over the next few days she warms up to it, but she can’t seem to contain herself once we leave the room. There’s so much self-control involved with having the entire outside world available to you at any time (or, at least your entire bedroom), with no supervision. We watch her on the camera night after night, as she gets out of bed, turns on the light, searches for ways to open her bedroom door, meanders over to her toys, plays with them for a while and then ditches them for some books. Eventually she makes her way back to her bed, sometimes curling up at the very bottom, or crunched into one of the corners on top of the fluffy new comforter. She never once cries or even so much as vocalizes a complaint. She is a quiet, cerebral kind of problem solver.
It’s been almost a week now and she’s settling in nicely.
“Izzy’s bed!” She announced to me with a smile last night. “Cozy!”
And just like that, one of the last vestiges of “baby” has disappeared.
It is truly breathtaking, witnessing this growing up thing in real-time, every day, right in your own home. Sometimes I can’t believe this is the same little creature we brought home from the hospital nearly three years ago. And it won’t ever stop. We are seriously bursting with pride over here. And awe. And respect. What a privilege it is to watch her go.
Milestone: unlocked. She’s in a big girl bed now. Orders from the universe: keep marching forward.