It didn’t take us long to realize the obscure promise of a Big Girl bed wouldn’t be enough to keep our daughter on good behaviour at night time. She set us straight on Night 3 and has been up to her usual tricks since.
In my paranoia, I’m convinced she somehow knows that I’ve promised the crib to a friend of mine, who’s expecting his baby in about 4 weeks; that even if she screams her head off night after night, she’s still headed towards that bed.
So we decided to take another approach. On Saturday, we took a family outing to Ikea, and while the boy played in the on-site daycare (WIN!) I brought the girl upstairs to look at the big girl beds.
She loved climbing all over them and snuggling down into the pillows. Ick. We picked a bed frame, a duvet cover and curtains. Hearts and pinkness abounded.
We had lunched, packed up the car and headed home. We were playing in the basement for about 1/2 and hour when I asked her, “So? You liked your big girl bed?”
“In da grocery store.”
(She thinks every store is called the grocery store.)
“Yes. And now at home.”
She looked dubious.
“Yes, Sweetheart. We brought it home.”
She cocked her head and squinted her eyes at me.
I brought her upstairs and showed her the box, the sheets, the mattress. Which, by the way, was a coil mattress rolled up and stuffed into industrial plastic, like a tight little sausage. Coil. Mattress. My husband cut the plastic open and was almost decapitated by the thing when it sprung open.
But I digress.
For a while, the 3 of us sat and watched TV in the living room while my husband assembled the bed upstairs. One thing we’ve learned over the course of our 13 year relationship is that building Ikea furniture is not a team sport. In fact, it’s a one-way ticket to divorce court.
So I took the kids and we went out for a couple of hours. When we got back, they both flew upstairs and jumped all over her new bed. I dressed it with the freshly washed sheets, organized the room and little and pointed out the crib, less than 2 feet away from her bed.
“See that?” I asked. “Babies sleep in cribs. Only big girls sleep in beds. Do you understand?”
“Yesh. No cwying.”
When bedtime came, I reminded her again of the dire consequences should she cry or set foot out of her bed. She nodded her head solemnly.
A few minutes later, she called me.
“What is it?”
“There’s Kleenex on the table by your bed.”
A few more minutes.
I get her the water. I was kind of at a loss because I didn’t want to threaten to put her in the crib for calling me. I didn’t want to cheapen the seriousness of the crib, or of crying and leaving the bed.
“If you keep calling me, I’m going to take away your baby and your dolly. Do you understand?”
“Yesh.” Beat. “What about ma purse?”
“Your purse, too.”
“What about ma baby bottles?”
“Your baby bottles, too.”
She looked around.
“No, not your blankets.”
“No, not your pillow. If you call me again, I will take away all your toys.”
I left the room. She measured the benefits, assessed the risk and, I guess, decided that the blankets and pillows were enough of a novelty to satisfy her… so she called.
I walked in, took away all the toys and said, “5 minutes. If you cry, you know what happens.”
I walked out and lay down on my bed. Not a peep. 5 minutes later, I walked back into her room, handed her the toys and wished her good night.
As I crawled into my own bed later that night, I wondered at what ungodly hour she’d come padding into my bedroom in the morning, looking for breakfast.
But when morning came, she called to me from her bed. It was 6 am.
“Too early,” I told her. “Try again at 7.”
She went back to sleep, and dutifully called me at 7:15.
I went to get her and brought her into my bed for a Sunday morning cuddle. After 2 seconds, she looked me in the eye and said -
“Mommy? Why don’t you come cuddle with me in ma big girl bed?”
So I did.