April 11, 2013 2:44 pm The Big Boy Bed
Charlie awakened to his mother’s laugh. She was in his baby brother, Finn’s room. Charlie got out of his new bed. A month before Finn was born, Charlie’s mother and father had told him that he was ready for a “big boy bed.”
“You’re such a big boy now, Charlie. You’re going to be a wonderful big brother. You will love your new room.”
Charlie had been mixed on the idea. He loved his crib and his old room, where he could find the moon in his window as he was falling asleep. Charlie knew some of the children in his nursery school class had gotten big boy beds recently. They had talked at meeting time about how grown up they were.
On the other hand, Charlie’s friend Matthew had told him, as they sat on the monkey bars, that he couldn’t stand his new bed. So Charlie had been reluctant to give up his comfortable crib in the only room he had ever had. But his parents, Dina and Ryan Wheeler, had bought new animal print sheets, and talked him into it and he was now sleeping in what had once been their shared office, which they had wallpapered with pictures of woodland animals that Charlie loved.
Charlie walked into his old room to find his mother smiling at Finn, who was kicking his feet in what had been Charlie’s crib. Peering through the wooden slats, he saw his tiny brother. Dina put out her hand to Charlie and he took it.
“Good morning, Charlie.”
“Hi, Mommy. It’s sunny out. Can we go to the park?”
“Maybe after Finn has his nap we can have an adventure, — beginning with some big pushes on the swings you love there.”
“He went out to get diapers for Finn.”
Dina quietly closed Finn’s door and ran a bath for Charlie. In no time Charlie was squirting his rubber dolphin at his duck and was humming a little song. Dina sat on the edge of the tub and told Charlie a little story about a bunny and a toad.
Ryan arrived with warm bagels as well as the diapers. When Charlie heard his father’s whistle, he got himself out of the tub, calling, “Daddy, hi!”
Ryan came up the stairs to wrap Charlie in a big striped towel. “How is my big boy doing?”
“Fine, Daddy. Let’s go to the park soon.”
Okay, we’ll have some breakfast and make a plan.”
As they were all enjoying their bagels, a little sound was heard.
Dina listened closely. There it was again. She went up the stairs and Ryan said, “Finn’s awake.”
“How long will it be before Finn gets to have a bagel, Daddy?”
“Oh, that won’t be for a long time, honey. Maybe a year.”
Dina came downstairs with Finn. He was finishing the last bit of a bottle in Dina’s arms.
Charlie looked at Finn and said, “A baby takes so long before he can do things. I’m happy I’m a big boy.”
“Come on, Charlie. Let’s get out into this beautiful day!”
Out in the yard, Ryan and Charlie noticed the daffodils were getting ready to bloom. “Remember, we planted them last fall? You dug the holes.”
“Oh yeah, I slept in my old room in my crib then. I remember you and Mommy told me that the flowers would come right after Finn was born.”
Ryan patted Charlie’s head. “That’s right, Buddy.”
“Daddy, do bigger boys ever go back in their cribs? Or do they stay in their big boy beds forever?”
Looking at Charlie’s small hands, Ryan understood what Charlie was thinking about. He could feel that the newness of the situation was a lot for a little boy to take in.
“I’ll tell you what, Charlie. How about we look at your crib and see if you can still fit.”
Charlie couldn’t believe his luck. “I’d like that, Daddy!”
When they went back inside, they saw Finn on a quilt on the living room rug. Dina was happy to see her little bulb checkers.
“We’ll be right down, Mommy. We have to look at something.”
Ryan winked at Dina as he and Charlie went upstairs. They looked at the crib together. Ryan lifted Charlie into it. It felt familiar and snug. However, after the few weeks in a big bed, it did seem a bit cramped. Ryan suggested they go into Charlie’s new room. The sun was pouring in and Charlie jumped into his bed. It felt suddenly perfect.
“You, know, Daddy, I wasn’t ready for my big boy bed until today. You and Mommy thought I was ready lots of days ago, right?” Charlie’s voice trembled. “But I wasn’t.”
“Charlie, when we talked to you, the new bed seemed like a good idea. We knew Finn would need the crib and just assumed you were ready. Maybe we rushed things too much because it was easier for us. We didn’t want to buy another crib for just a short time.”
Charlie was quiet.
“Hey, I tell you what, Charlie. Here’s the deal. If you want your crib back, we’ll get another one for Finn. We can switch the rooms too. We don’t want you to feel bad, Buddy.”
They went back to the old room and Charlie took one more look at the crib. “Daddy, this feels like Finn’s room now.” Charlie saw a bunny sticker that had been on his crib for years. “I’m going to take this off and put it on my bed. Maybe someday Finn will put his own sticker on the crib.”
Sometimes an ideal solution in a parent’s mind might not be right for the child. Maybe the child feels rushed or pressured. Taking it slower can be the way to go. Offering a child the luxury of time to be ready, with parents who are willing to really listen, can make transitional times more successful for all. A closer bond is forged which will support the next transition, when it comes. The essential parent/child trust is helped to develop naturally and deeply.
Written by: Anne Martine Cook, Managing Partner & Mom, with 35+ years experience teaching nursery school children.
We welcome your comments and questions.