Carol Jane Remsburg
With children you never know of what sort you will be gifted with. From the moment of their birth life becomes a continuum of surprises—or not. My daughter is one of those enigmas in life that I'll never understand even if I live to be Methuselah's age. "Order" is her watchword, any upset of that applecart and there is hell to be paid.
When she reached the near-toddler stage and I couldn't keep her in the crib another minute, we opted for a youth bed. This was after putting a straight-chair next to the crib so she could climb out without inflicting grievous injury upon herself. The floor was very hard and the fall would be a long one. With the "youth" bed my life forever changed with that little metal frame painted a bright and cheery red, it housed a crib mattress. Try to keep a tot in one and off to the land of Morpheus. It doesn't happen unless you curl up with them while giving hour-long backrubs with cooing sounds and tickling sessions. No adult can comfortably situate themselves onto such a tiny bed with a child and 847 stuffed animals and two oversized pillows to keep the child from knocking her brains out on the metal side rails.
This led to the nightly ritual that is still ongoing to this day. It's a cuddle, a backrub, and a quiet end to the day—it lasts 5 minutes or less on a good night. Some nights we repeat this so frequently I begin to wonder if the calendar hasn't been shifting without my awareness.
That "youth" bed didn't last very long. I couldn't keep her in it. I opted for a more intensive training. We put her in a "BIG" bed. No, not just your standard twin bed, we put her in the antique, hand-made spool bed my hubby's great-grandfather built about a hundred years ago. It's a ¾-sized bed that we had to special-order a mattress and box spring for long before Erin was ever thought about. Back then they used feather ticks. Putting a mattress and box spring on this frame made the bed look like the Empire State Building to this 3 year-old. It was a climb up and a climb down that she wasn't all that eager to do.
Ah Ha! What a wonderful idea, I thought. Gleefully rubbing my hands together, I did feel that once abed with a nice warm cuddle and a backrub, she'd be in for the night. That lasted less than two weeks because she must have 'monkey' in her blood to clamber up and down with such skill.
Then came the home rehab. Erin didn't like it. She didn't like the disruption, the new carpet, the new paint, the new walls, and especially the 'new room' we designed just for her—upstairs. It's somewhere between 550 & 700 square feet. I dunno which, but suffice it to say, it's enormous. No child should have that sort of room all to themselves—the damn thing has two wings and all the amenities of phone, satellite TV, Nintendo 64, and her computer if she wants it there! It was fine as a 'playroom' but definitely not in contention for a 'bedroom.' No way and no how was she leaving her teensy little bedroom downstairs that we had plans to transform into a miniature library. Okay, it would have some bookshelves and be home to two chairs, but it was a grand idea.
Thus she kept her playroom and her bedroom—she still did most of her playing in the living room as not to be out-of-touch with her family. Nothing is beneath her scrutiny or rights of control. That's at least in her eyes.
That's when I rearranged her bedroom and moved her bed to the far wall across the room. I thought the kid was going to give birth to a litter of kittens or pass a gallstone or something. She came home and found her normally disarrayed room in pristine condition—and 'changed'! This was not a good thing for her. She cannot stomach this kind of upheaval in her life. It took three days before she could comfortably accept this change—and then whined about it for another two weeks. My dreams of moving her into that upstairs realm were dwindling fast. It had already been two years and she was approaching nine years of age. What gives here?
Major discussions had been held during these years over the 'move.' Her answer was a definite and emphatic "No!" We tried everything from reverse psychology to bribes. Then hubby had an idea, but we waited until well after she was nine. We waited until yesterday. Hubby brought home a "new" bed. It was just a twin bed, a nice little bed. I brought home the fancy, fresh bed linens and new pillows. We assembled the bed and made the area a cozy haven. Erin was drawn to it like a bee to a flower. Meanwhile, hubby and I took bets that Erin wouldn't last the night. However, both of us were betting she wouldn't so neither had a 'taker.' Guess what? We lost that bet. Erin slept much better than a baby upstairs in that bed.
The queen of I'll-hate-changes-in-my-life-until-I-die accepted that change and that challenge. Tonight, the second night met with a few extra demands for hugs, love, and reassurance, but her determination to camp out in an alien world is in stone and her resolve a sure one. Her only request is that before I retire—which will be late—is to escort her for a last potty run so she won't have to worry about coming down the stairs too sleepy to find her way.
My daughter alternates between being a "plodder" of the right, true, and sure, but when there's something shiny and new—she'll run for it like a hungry trout. Cross your fingers for me, meeting this crossroads is a big one because then I know she can bravely meet the rest of life's challenges. Most of us know when and where we will sleep at night. Being sure and safe in that concept helps us face the morning and a new day of challenges. I hope you slumber sweetly tonight—me, I'll be awake.