Thursday, June 01, 2006

Lockdown

Jim The Small Child Nephew is right at this moment dragging a small tin cup across the toddler gate that blocks his room, for tonight, he sleeps in his Big Boy Bed.

I hope it went better than the first night this was attempted. Julie The NephewMama and Country the Brother In Law have this child wrangling book, and the book told them to let him cry for very short, but gradually increasing intervals. The theory is that he will eventually figure out that he can function on his own, and simmer on low accordingly. Which sounds precisely like the following corresponding foreign policy advice: "Well, if Israel and Palestine would just agree to disagree, everything would be fine."

This has been a months-long process, and I cannot imagine how much it must have sucked for my sister and her husband. They were allowed to go to Jim's gate and tell him to go back to the Big Boy Bed, but otherwise he was on his own, here in his enormous carpeted room with two beanbag chairs and seventy million books and every toy ever manufactured in the history of the universe.

"Mama?" he called.

"...Da?"

"...Poppy?"

"...That?"

Which is how he refers to his grandmothers. He didn't get far enough down the list to call for Aunt Beth, who certainly couldn't let him out of jail from Florida anyway, because at this point he slammed the door and nobody heard anything from him again until six AM, when his detailed plans for retribution were complete. (The door-slamming, he inherited from his godmother, I'm afraid. Well, another 27 years and it won't be an issue anymore.)

Jim would happily stay in his crib until it's time for college, I expect, since he would pass hours in there sitting quietly, writing polyphonic symphonies and working on his memoirs. But Schnitzel draws nigh, and out he goes. And thus begins a life of Let Your Brother/Sister Play.

It's difficult for an adult to understand how a baby can function as a threat to a toddler. Jim has been warily approaching his pending role as big brother, for, as my mother says, he is beginning to smell a rat. And who can blame him? In two months, here will come this...totally non-Jim related... thing which he will be expected to love on sight. We will, of course, but the thing will have... taken over his crib.

Jim just acquired a new cousin, whom he greeted with a hearty "Hi, baby!" before wandering away. It was difficult to buy a "Congratulations!!!! Your life is no longer your own" card, because they all contained the word "bouncing," which is the biggest baby-related lie I have ever seen. Newborns do not bounce. They are lumps, and if you do anything to make them bounce, Dr. Phil will yell at you.

The lumps are shaped by the forces around them. I, for instance, was born in 1977, most notable for "Margaritaville," Star Wars, Seattle Slew, and the first test flight of the space shuttle. I stand before you today a Parrothead with a plastic lightsaber on her television set who moved to Florida to work for NASA and occasionally writes for the Thoroughbred industry as a side dish. A 2006 birth likely means that Schnitzel will go through life shrieking into cellphone headsets and insist upon referring to everyone as "dawg," but you could do worse.

I can't wait to meet the lump, but then again, I have been long accustomed to my own Big Girl Bed. It's the twin of Jim's Big Boy Bed, actually, the completion of the bunk bed set that my sister and I slept in as children, which is either very sweet or extremely creepy. In any case, someday Jim will be pushing thirty and have a job and look longingly upon the matress, but for now, if The Prince doesn't sleep, Mama and Da and Schnitzel don't either.

I also have a Big Girl Futon at: mb@blondechampagne.com

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

We faced a similar situation a few years ago and found that disassembling the crib and having it stored away for awhile helped - especially since the baby started in a basinette. That gave us about four months (an eternity in toddler time) with a crib-free house so that the substitution was not so direct and obvious. The new baby was, however, occasionally greeted with "kisses" that morphed into bites and "hugs" that morphed into eye-popping squeezes. They're both in college now and good friends so that initial sibling rivalry has apparently worked itself out.

amy lou the reader said...

I personally want to get those cribs that convert into day beds then twin or full-sized beds for my kids.

Since my brother and I are 2.5 years apart, I don't remember when he was born. But I do remember our youth and we didn't like each other much until I was in my junior/senior year of high school and he was a freshman/sophomore.

But now we're pretty close. So Julie the Nephew Mama and Country the Brother In Law only have another 18-20 years of sibling rivalry to contend with. No problem. :-)

mike the longterm reader said...

Maybe I'm strange (well, actually, I know I'm strange), but my sister was born when I was three, and from all accounts, I loved her from point one.

There were moments when I wasn't particularly happy with my parents, however, because as the first child I was far more protected since they played by all the rules. By the time my sister attained sentience, the rules were far more relaxed since they knew she wouldn't spontaneously explode if the Dr.-Lipchitz-type laws of parenting were bent or broken every once in a while.

Dantelope said...

Method Used in the Dantelope Household:

(1) Ensure that move to big boy/girl bed is pre-announced and hyped up -- then very congraluatory so toddler is very proud.

(2) Establish rule -- go over it a few times each night for the first couple nights so there's no doubt -- that toddler is to stay in bed at night and not come out in the morning until mommy and daddy come in. This works: "If you are coming out of your bed, it means you must not like it and want to sleep on the floor". Usually greeted by wailings "Noooo, I want to stay in my big bed!!!" Note: no option given for going back to the crib

(3) For first couple nights, guide them back and gently remind them of the rules.

(4) On the third night, right before bed, explain that there will be no more warnings and that they will be sleeping on the floor if they decide to come out of their bed (note emphasis on their decision).

(5) FOLLOW THROUGH. It will probably only happen once or twice. It will require you to diligently check up on them if they are moved to the floor. It's a small price to pay. It works brilliantly.

(6) If 1-5 fail, send child to military prep school and start working on making a better child. *grin*

MB said...

Mike, you were a very good big brother. That was the reaction Julie the NephewMama had to me. I'm pretty sure the extent of her rebellion to m appearance was to write her name in purple marker on her dresser. Best. Big. Sister. Ever. She was Mother's Helper, and thought I was neat and would be lot of fun to have around.

Boy, did I prove her wrong. Sorry about that, Julie.

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