For at least a month, Caleb has been saying that he needs a new bed. He’d gotten too big for the toddler bed he’s been using since the morning we woke up and realized that the reason he was in snuggling with us was because he’d climbed out of the crib and sauntered into our room. (This is a kid who started walking at nine months, when–let’s face it–children don’t have the brains god gave a doughnut. A ambulatory nine-month-old? Terrifying). The toddler bed fit neatly under Liam’s loft bed, in a kind of faux bunk-bed arrangement, which had worked nicely, until last month. We kept promising the new bed–we were busy and then we were away–but finally, the other day, we hauled ass out to Ikea in Red Hook to make good on our promise.
We had thought about getting an actual bunk-bed but the ceilings in our apartment are so low we figured that Liam would end up sleeping only about a foot away from the ceiling–felt way too claustrophobic. So we went with second best: a new twin mattress for Caleb that would slot into the space under Liam’s bed where the toddler bed had been. The boy’s room isn’t big enough for two twin beds and their legos, and there is no way we can part with any legos, becuase EVERY lego is VERY IMPORTANT. Thus, the boys get stacked up like cordwood.
Many of our parent friends in two-bedroom apartments eventually make the Great Compromise if they have two kids: they turn the master bedroom into the shared kids room and take the smaller bedroom for themselves, on the basis (I guess) that parents can co-exist more comfortably in a smaller space than two children (and legos, never forget the legos).
Not gonna happen here. Call me selfish but Husband and I shared a very small bedroom once upon a time (and one small closet, but that memory surfaces only in nightmares) and we damn near killed each other. We need those precious feet of extra space around the bed for our own adult version of Very Important Stuff.
So Caleb, my beloved second son, stays on the bottom “bunk,” as it were. He helped to choose the right mattress at Ikea, grudgingly (we took him away from playing with the toys in the kids section), and was thrilled to see the toddler bed be dismantled and stowed away to give to his cousin. He loved the “big boy” sheets, and chose all his favorite stuffed animals to keep him company at the foot of the bed. And he loves the fact that in the morning, Liam now climbs down and snuggles with Caleb in his bed, instead of Caleb always having to climb up to Liam’s bed. (Great parenting mystery eight-thousand-and-forty-two: why can my children play together so happily while I’m asleep but as soon as I wake up, they try to kill each other? Clearly, I should stop getting out of bed in the morning, maybe ever, for that matter.)
Caleb, in other words, loves this new arrangement. True to form, however, his mother has reservations: she can’t help seeing, in Caleb’s new sleeping quarters, shades of a Potter-esque “cupboard under the stairs.” I can almost imagine Caleb’s therapy sessions later in life: “Yeah, so I slept under my brother’s bed, on a mattress on the floor…”
Somehow, the toddler bed, with its little white slats, seemed cosier than this new set-up. But when I see Caleb scrunching happily into his covers or burying himself in his stuffed animals, I realize that he feels plenty cosy.
I’m the one waxing nostalgic for the little toddler bed and I realize that my reservations have nothing to do with the mattress on the floor, or bunk-beds, or my wish for a third bedroom. It’s the fact that Caleb is five, hurtling into boyhood without so much as a backward glance.