One big step on Elmo sheets

When does it start, officially? When do your kids take that first step up from baby-hood to the new, exciting, terrifying world of kid-dom?  Does it come with one tentative step that ultimately leads to toddling about, or is it when you realize that a distinctive set of whines and cries has developed into real communication using actual words from a shared language?

As a parent, those are all wonderful, glorious, panic-inducing events, but for my money, the first real milestone away from the ducky-covered world of the baby and into the kid-sized realm of tricycles and underpants comes with an actual bed.  Yep, it’s the transition from the crib to a toddler or full-sized bed that truly gets the big-kid ball a-rolling.

In that case, today is the first day of the rest of The Attitude’s life; at naptime this afternoon, he slept in his big-boy bed for the first time.

Obviously, that didn’t just happen.  Sure, I’ve heard stories of bed-ready children being presented with a new mattress and a colorful set of branded, character print sheets and immediately shunning their crib like a high-society debutante turning her nose up a pair of generic-label jeans, no matter how bedazzled.  Not my son, though, no sir.  We actually put the new bed in is room a few weeks ago, hoping he would go for it.  We weren’t prepared to rip that band-aid right off, though, and left the crib up in case there was…hesitation.

As it turns out, there wasn’t so much hesitation as flat-out, absolute refusal to even consider the new bed an option. Every nap and bedtime for the past two weeks has pretty much followed the same script:

“Do you want to sleep in your big-boy bed?”

“No, no wrike it. Sweep in crib.”

And thus, we reached the band-aid point this afternoon.  Before naptime, while the Puddinette distracted him, I employed my ninja-like stealth crib disassembly skills (I’ve taken down a crib more times than Lindsey Lohan’s checked into rehab) and removed the preferred bed without being noticed.  Later, when the clock stuck naptime, I took the ‘Tude into his room and feigned surprise to find his crib suddenly missing.

Yes, lied to my two-year old; I’m a terrible person. Hey, don’t judge. Sometimes parenting means playing hardball.  When Machiavelli wrote that the end justifies the means, I’m pretty certain he was talking about having kids a lot more than he was referring to being king.

Of course, the nap didn’t just magically just happen after that, either.  My son was none too pleased to find himself the victim of grand theft crib, and let me know about it with all the tears and wailing one would expect.  Sometimes parenting means dealing with a little well-earned guilt, too.

When he finally consented to laying down in the new bed, I thought perhaps we were in for smooth sailing.  But then, he didn’t come by the nickname “The Attitude” on accident.  Every few minutes, I’d hear the doorknob to his room click a couple of times, followed by the thud of his door being shut once again. At which point I was obligated to remind him, with increasing conviction, that it was time to stay in bed and away from the door.  He was unimpressed with my threats to withhold his college fund, but finally, staring into the abyss of a naptime with his stuffed Elmo confiscated, he reluctantly conceded to my authority and fell asleep.

When I peeked into this room to check on whether he’d actually drifted off, I found him sleeping as little children do: soundly, innocently, angel-like. I stood in the doorway and watched him dream of choo-choo trains and big trucks, and my heart ached at knowing that such a small thing as going from a crib to a bed was actually his first big step to becoming his own person.

Welcome to the big kid world, little guy.  Enjoy the ride.