Sam is 22 and a half months old. He’ll be two on January 31st. When Nate was 21 months old, we moved him from his crib to a big bed—mostly because we’d need the crib space for soon-to-be-born Sam. And if parenting is all about managing transitions, we were the smoothest managers this side of the Mississippi. Whatever that means.
It didn’t mess up Nate’s bedtime routine, his sleep schedule, or even his naps. And it didn’t mess up our mornings either. Even though he could easily climb out, Nate would stay in his bed until we went in and told him he could get out.
We moved a second twin bed into Nate’s room a few months ago, planning that, eventually, Nate and Sam would share a room.
Tighe was excited. He has fond memories of sharing a room with his brothers, though I’m not sure why. Most of his stories involve bloody noses, titty twisters, and a designated “spit corner.” Oh, and most importantly, exasperated parents yelling at them to go to sleep.
I never had to share a room. As the only girl in my family, I was pretty much master of my domain.
But my brothers shared a room. And since there were three of them, the pairing off rotated based on who was going through a bullying phase. The biggest bully seemed to earn his own room—king of the hill or something. I remember lots of door slamming, locked doors, bed jumping, and pillow fights.
Really? This is what we want for Nate and Sam?
Tighe thinks I’m stalling because I want Sam to be my baby forever.
Uh, no. I’m counting down until he packs up some boxes and moves to college, preferably on one of the coasts, a full plane ride away! I mean yes, I’ll miss him, but I’m under no illusions that he can remain a baby. I can’t wait to potty train him and send him to preschool next fall!
My reason for stalling is because he’s not ready yet. He’s just not. Nate was. But Nate also knew all his colors, the true definition of a circle, and could read full paragraphs, pausing only to occasionally look up the meaning of a multisyllabic word. Like ‘quiet.’ Or ‘silence.’ Or ‘whisper.’
And selfishly, of course, I’m not prepared for the potential disruption to our own sleep that such a transition would cause. Is Sam going to occasionally wake us up now, breaking into our bedroom? If Nate or Sam has a bad dream or gets sick, will he wake the other one? And what about Sam’s nap—my favorite time of day? Will he start refusing a nap because he has FOMO? Will he start the habit of creeping down the steps in the afternoon, disrupting my Erin time, just because he can?
Nope. I’m not ready for any of that.
And neither is Sam. And we found this out the other night.
We refer to the other twin bed as ‘Sam’s bed.’ He climbs in and out of it freely as they get their pj’s on and listen to bedtime stories. Then one of us retrieves Sam and deposits him in his crib in his bedroom, with all the “guys” he sleeps. The current roster of Sam’s guys includes his two lovies—both monogrammed, each a different shade of blue, his toy trash truck, an Elmo Christmas ornament, a plastic Thomas whistle, a small plastic elephant which he refers to as Dumbo, and a larger plastic elephant which he refers to as Dumbo’s mom.
And the other night, Sam, with his head on his new pillow and tucked under the comforter, refused to get out of the bed. Tighe and I looked at each other, puzzled, each wondering: Does he want to sleep here? For the whole night? Is this it? Are we really doing this?
We pretended this was the routine, and each said good night to both boys, cautiously eyeing Sam to see if he would flinch—like a game of Chicken. If he so much as looked toward the exit or started to sit up or said the word “crib,” I was ready to snatch him up and take him to his room!
But he stayed put. I backed out of the room, my eyes still on Sam as Tighe bent down to whisper to Nate.
“Be a good big brother. Help Sam out in his first night in a big bed.”
“I will,” Nate said. “I’ll tell him there is no such thing as monsters.”
I don’t think Sam has any clue what a monster is, but okay, Nate.
Tighe and I walked down the steps as a pair, both still peering into the bedroom until we could no longer see in. We paused to listen for a moment. Sam was talking, but perfectly still, seemingly afraid to move for fear of falling out of the bed.
“I love you, Nate,” Sam mumbled.
“Sam, go to sleep! I gotta get up in the morning!”
“Oh. Lights.” Nate has a string of red lights across his ceiling.
“Sam, there is no such thing as monsters.”
Finally, it got quiet and Tighe and I sat down to watch TV. After almost an hour, we heard a loud thud above us.
“He fell out of bed!” I knew it immediately.
Tighe rushed upstairs—after pausing Aziz Ansari’s new show on Netflix, “Master of None,” of course. Don’t want to miss comedy.
He was on the floor between the beds, still wrapped in the comforter, not crying, just stiff, like petrified wood, too scared or unsure to move.
Tighe picked him up, put him back in the bed, kissed him and told him to go to sleep.
“Okay, Dad. Love you.”
Almost another full hour after that, Tighe and I put Wally out one last time, locked up the house, and began to trudge upstairs for the night. I peered through the open bedroom door, where I could just barely see the top of Sam’s head, motionless, peeking above the comforter. But as I got closer, I saw his eyes were still open—he was awake! It was almost ten-thirty, he’s usually out cold by eight!
I knelt down to whisper to him: “Go to sleep, Sam. You’re doing such a great job. I love you so much.”
“Love you much, Mom,” he repeated.
I whispered urgently to Tighe who was still at the top of the steps, “He’s awake!”
Tighe went in and murmured in Sam’s ear, “Sam, do you want to go sleep in your—?”
And before Tighe could even say “crib,” Sam replied “YES!” Emphatically.
So, we said our good-nights to him again and he gratefully returned to his crib, where he immediately laid down and hugged his lovies to his chest and took stock of his “guys.”
We have no doubt that he was asleep within minutes. We’ll try it again in a few months. When he’s ready. When I’m ready.