Today, we bought our son a big boy bed. He only started sleeping in his crib when he was about one, and once his sleep started to regulate, we didn’t want to mess with anything, so we were in no hurry to move to a toddler bed. There was this idea that we would convert his crib to its toddler bed setting a couple of months ago when he was turning two, but again, we couldn’t mess with what seemed to be working.
However, BG has been expressing more and more interest in big boy beds (and lifting him in and out of his crib is getting more and more challenging). We had on hand a bed rail, so we decided to go for the transition today. Unfortunately, when we did, we learned that the rail we had was not at all intended for a toddler bed, and as a result, it was fairly dangerous (any attempted roll out of the bed may well have taken the mattress too). Also of concern was that the boy still had three sides to pull up on, so he was still standing and walking in his bed. Something was going to have to change for these moms to be comfortable leaving our boy in the bed.
So we called a local baby store, put a toddler bed rail on hold, and then went to pick it up. While there, we took BG to a sale area upstairs where we spotted two toddler beds. BG laid in one. He liked it. It was only sixty dollars more than the rail. We hemmed, we hawed, we asked what colors they had, and within moments, we were leaving, receipt in hand, heading home to free our little sedan of a toddler, a carseat, and an extra mom so that one of us could return for a big boy bed.
While J was gone getting the bed, BG helped me disassemble his crib. We said goodbye to it a few times and we talked a lot about the big boy bed that was coming. He talked about which animals he would want in his new bed. He talked about having good dreams in his new bed. It was heartening. He had expressed a good deal of concern earlier in the day during the conversion of the crib to its toddler setting. He thought we were getting rid of his crib, and this worried him so. But having seen the option of a real bed, he was no longer distressed and instead was enjoying helping me.
When his new bed came, we assembled it, put the mattress down, and I gave BG a quilt my mom had made me when I was a baby. He loved the blanket, helped me tuck it into the bed, and then he laid down. He got under the covers, and yelled enthusiastically, “You LOVE this bed!” (He’s still working out his pronouns.) He got in and out of it multiple times, telling us, “BG like in and out of bed!” He put his favorite bear in the bed, his pillow, and the blankets he used in his crib. He placed his water bottle in the spot next to his pillow where it always is, and everything seemed in place. But then came his bonding doll, Wink. Wink has been with BG since infancy. I used to carry the doll around in my shirt and put it back in his bed. This was the first sleep friend he had, and he has continued to stay by BG’s pillow. But today, BG got to decide what he wanted, and when asked about Wink, he said, “No. No Wink. Put Wink in garage.” The garage is where his high chair went. It’s where we just put his crib. It’s where all of the symbols of his babyhood have gone. My wife and I agreed Wink would go to the cedar chest where we store our boy’s keepsakes. BG gave Wink a hug and a kiss. He asked us to kiss Wink. He gave him one last hug and kiss and said goodbye, and he watched my wife put him away. We told him he could have Wink whenever he wanted, but he was ready to say goodbye.
Do I need to tell you that this made me cry? I’ve done a lot of that today.
My wife and I have long said we would let our son tell us when he was ready to take his next steps. He told us when he was done with his high chair, and recently, he told us he was ready to move on from his baby bed. I’m so proud of him when he does this, yet it always takes me my surprise a little. I’m always caught up in the emotion of it all, in having a son who has left his baby self behind and has emerged a boy. I find myself in these moments simultaneously mourning my baby and celebrating the awesome kid he has become, and I know this is so very natural for parents to do. I am quickly learning that one of the hardest things to do as a parent is to watch one’s child grow up, yet this is also one of the most fulfilling and inspiring aspects of parenthood. I really don’t know what will come next, what big transition will come knocking on our door, but I can guarantee I’ll be crying in my wife’s arms, marveling at the wonder that is my son and wondering why on earth he has to grow up so fast.