The Best Nest

The Best Nest

Denny woke up with a start.  Ever since he had moved into a real bed, sleeping through the night had been difficult.  During the day, Denny sometimes became tearful out of the blue.  His parents, Anna and Brian, couldn’t figure out what was upsetting him.

“I wish I knew what sometimes comes over Denny to make him feel so sad,” Anna had said to Brian the night before.  “I wonder if he misses his old room and crib.”

“Denny was so excited to get his big boy bed,” Brian reminded her.  “Being four is no snap.  So much new stuff is happening all the time.”

Patrick, Denny’s two and a half year old brother was in Denny’s old crib in the room next door to him.  Anna and Brian slept down the hall in the other direction.

Denny snuggled under his covers.  He was warm and yet he wasn’t happy.  Something had awakened him and he was scared.  When he eventually drifted off, Denny dreamed he was sliding on the ice on his driveway and couldn’t stop.  When he opened his eyes, his heart pounded, and nearly jumped out of his little chest.  Denny got out of his bed and walked quietly into Patrick’s room.  There his little brother was, sound asleep underneath a soft quilt with pictures of Peter Rabbit all over it.  Denny climbed up the side and got into the familiar white crib.  He curled up against warm Patrick.  Denny felt like the luckiest four-year-old in the world.  He fell asleep in a flash.

That Saturday morning the house was calm and cozy.  Brian went downstairs quietly and made coffee.  He felt happy that for once his wife could sleep a little longer.  As he was pouring his second cup of coffee, he heard little noises upstairs, followed by soft laughter.  He heard Anna’s voice.  “There you are Denny.  I couldn’t find you in your room.  How funny to find you in bed with Patrick.”

Brian brought his wife coffee.  She was still looking into the crib.  Their little boys were grinning delightedly.

“Boys, I’d say this was a perfect idea for such a chilly night.”

“Yes, it certainly was,” Anna chimed in.  “Denny, you were so quiet, too.”

“I didn’t want to wake up Patrick so I tiptoed.  I just wanted to be with him.  It was lonely in my room.”

Patrick smiled.  “Tonight too, Denny, will you sweep wiff me?”

Anna and Brian looked at each other thoughtfully.  “We’ll see, boys.  Let’s get up and make some breakfast and see what the day has in store for us.”

Brian helped Denny while Patrick got a quick diaper change.  Soon they were all downstairs.  The birds were busy outside the big kitchen window.

“Birds are hungry too, right?  Let’s give them crumbs and stuff, okay?”  Denny asked.

“Sure, Denny.  I’ll put seed in the coffee can and we can fill the feeder.  You can help me after breakfast.”

“Will they be able to wait, Daddy?  They look a little bit upset. ”

“We won’t be long.  They can stay in their nests until we go outside.  After we fill the feeder, they can fly to their breakfast.”

Denny kept looking out at the birds.  “Where are their nests?  Are their babies in nests, Daddy?”

Brian scrambled eggs and made toast.  “I think some birds, such as the cardinals that you love, have nests in those low bushes,” he answered, pointing to the Mountain Laurel outside the kitchen windows.  “Their babies have grown up by wintertime.  In the spring, they’ll lay new eggs and when the eggs hatch, we’ll see more babies.”

“I hope they love their nests, Daddy.”

Brian put eggs and toast on plates, brought out strawberry jam and gave Denny napkins to carry.  Anna got the silverware and more coffee.  Patrick dragged his high chair over.

He put a big spoonful of jam on his plate and used his fingers to put it on his toast.

Denny was saving his crusts for the birds.  He knew they would love the toast as much as he did.

Anna smiled at her little family as she said.  “It’s so nice that it’s Saturday.  Let’s bundle up and go on an adventure.”

Patrick licked off his fingers.  “I want Denny to sweep wiff me every night, Mommy.  It was fun to wake up and see him.  Pweez Mommy!”

Anna suddenly felt this was such a small thing to want.  She put out a hand to each of them.  “Maybe on weekends since Denny won’t be going to school then.”

Brian agreed.  “If it’s a monstrous success, you can do it more often.”

The cardinals were waiting.  “Let’s go feed them,” Denny told his father.  Outside, they put seed in the feeder.  The birds waited a few seconds before digging in.  Denny looked at the Daddy cardinal picking at the seed.  His red feathers were brighter than ever.  Soon the smaller Mommy bird joined in.

As Patrick was being dressed, Denny watched to see if the cardinal couple flew to a nest in the bushes.  Brian cleaned up the kitchen.  Replaying the breakfast conversation, he felt the boys should try sleeping together since they both wanted it so much.  He went upstairs to get ready and found Anna brushing her hair.

“Let’s try letting the boys sleep together,” he suggested.  “If it doesn’t work, we’ll know soon.  We can move Denny’s big bed into Patrick’s room.”

“It’s a great idea,” Anna agreed.  “Let’s tell them now.  They’ll be happy all day.  Maybe Denny will finally cheer up.”

Walking into the sunny kitchen, they heard Denny say, “Daddy’s right.  The birds flew to the Mountain Laurel.  That’s where their nest is.  We can’t see them but they’re in there.”

“Aren’t the birds wucky to sweep together?”  Patrick asked.

“You boys are lucky too,” Anna broke in.  “You can sleep together whenever you want.”

The boys gave them big hugs, and smiled delightedly.  “Thank you,” Denny said.

The day was full and the hours raced by.  Before long, it was time for the boys to go to bed.  Brian brought them up for a story about birds and they settled in quickly.  Denny said in a whisper, “I love our nest.”

Patrick said, “Me too.”

Before Brian finished the part about how the red winged black bird’s wing got better, the boys were asleep.

In the kitchen, Anna was looking at a cookbook.  She was surprised to see Brian so quickly.  “Asleep already?”

“Anna, we’re so lucky to have our boys.  And lucky we agree about what they can do.  I’m glad we listened to them about sleeping together.”

“Sleeping separately really isn’t working… especially for Denny.  It isn’t much to ask.”

Some might say these parents made a big mistake.  Having gotten Denny into a big boy bed in his own room, they shouldn’t have agreed to this step backward.  They should have made him tough it out and helped him to feel proud of his progress. 

Children are good at letting their parents know what they need.  Parents who are open and who listen do not go wrong.  Anna and Brian listened to what their children clearly needed and, believing in themselves, were able to change direction, making the whole family happy.

Written by: Anne Martine Cook, Managing Partner & Mom, with 35+ years experience teaching nursery school children.

We welcome your comments and questions.