A few months back the baby crib came down and was replaced with a toddler bed for my growing tiny tot. Then a few weeks afterwards the realization set in, too many growing up changes happening too soon and Parker was not accepting them all. A pack and play was assembled next to the toddler bed for sleeping and temporary reassurance. The pack and play remained up for both naps and bedtime, while the fancy new toddler bed sat lonely, only getting an occasional hop, pretending to put Mommy down for a nap or movie time cuddles.
Despite the obvious lack of space in the confining pack and play, Parker chose to sleep there and didn’t try to climb out until this week. She casually walked out of her room following a nap one afternoon, so I promptly set her back into the pack and play to demonstrate how she escaped. Swinging her leg over the rail and onto her toddler bed as a step down, she proudly showed how she braved her long limbs into her escape plan.
Now, I have to say I have been ambiguous about the use of the pack and play. In a sense it’s nice to restrict her movement when it’s time to slow down and fall asleep. Although the structure became an obstacle in her room to manuever around and it was intended to be temporary in the transition. I have been ready whenever she was and her climbing out seemed to be the obvious sign it was no longer necessary.
As much of an explanation can be comprehended by a two-year old, she heard it while I disassembled the pack and play. “It’s time to use your big girl bed now,” I told her.
“Why not?” She asks, as this is the standard response for questioning even when the ‘not’ part doesn’t fit in. She appeared bothered, as if the folding boards thinly covered in foam and synthetic material was the most comfortable sleeping arrangement possible. After some convincing Parker was more excited about the impending night back in her new bed.
Bedtime loomed closer, I felt my nerves rising. Would she stay in her bed, would she fall asleep and would she stay asleep through the night. No matter how often I try to prepare, it’s impossible to predict the behavior to expect from a toddler. Our nighttime routine stayed exactly the same and when it was time I laid her down just as smoothly as I had the previous night in the pack and play. Momentary success as I closed the door and wished Parker sweet dreams.
I continued my evening downstairs until nearly an hour later I could hear her footsteps, then the door knob and then her chattering. Back upstairs I went, preparing to set a strict tone of needing to stay in bed.
“I not sleepy Mommy,” she pleaded to me with her big brown eyes as I escorted her back to her door. “I stinky Mommy,” she said with more urgency. “I need to go potty, need to go potty,” she said rapidly as a final distraction before I silently steered her back into her room. Climbing into bed she reiterated “I stinky Mommy.” I knew she was using any tactic possible to delay going to bed, and I also figured while I was there I should check her claims to be sure. Against my wishes I switched on her lamp and asked her to stand up to peek in the back of her pull-up. Sure enough, she needed to be changed.
Parker was delighted to have a captive audience now, she released her delirious inner comedian while I laid her down to wipe her clean. She sang The Wheels on the Bus using different tunes, voices and tempos with each line. I did my best to contain laughter, knowing it would only encourage her more. I couldn’t keep from smiling at her ridiculous state and was relieved to have my face in the shadow of the light so she couldn’t see my response. Parker went back to bed easily and sang herself to sleep.
All this week we have been redirecting her back to bed, though each night seems less and less. We also have been getting up several times during the night to bring her back to bed when she comes into our room after we have gone to sleep. The second night in her big girl bed I woke up early in the morning to find her laying between us, oblivious to when she arrived or how she climbed up, although from her mummified sleep I knew she had been there a while. Since I was exhausted from the frequent wake-ups the night before, I fell back asleep before having a conscious thought about needing to move her back.
The next few nights were more of the same. Redirections to go back to her own bed, and carrying her back to her room after we had gone to sleep. One early morning my husband awoke when he heard her door knob and from his position in bed he had a clear view of her charge from her room to my side of the bed. My recollection of the event was a terrifying jolt from my peaceful slumber by an excited tot, exercising her new-found freedom from the confinement of a pack and play.