My 2yo son started climbing out of his crib several months ago. I joked with someone today that as often as he worked on it, you would have thought he was training for an Olympic sport. Rather than fuss with a crib tent or go straight to a big boy bed, we came up with a good – albeit non-traditional – compromise.
We moved him into a room with the next two oldest kids – or more precisely, into their closet. You see, it’s a rather large walk-in closet, with enough room for a toddler bed, a bucket of books, and a collection of stuffed animals. We took the door off the hinges and put up a baby gate to block the way. It’s been working perfectly for the last several months. It gives him a little bit of freedom without an ounce of danger – no outlets, no windows, no shelves or anything else to climb.
Well, this week he learned to rip the baby gate off the doorway. What a nightmare! We had already been transitioning our daughter out of the shared room into her own room, so our 2yo was just left with our 8yo son as his roomie. But still, our 8yo had all sorts of stuff I didn’t want the 2yo exploring. Today my 8yo and I spent an hour cleaning everything out, removing potential dangers, and preparing the bottom bunk (which is a lovely, spacious double bed!) for the toddler. We put a safety knob on the door handle so he couldn’t get out of the room and wander, but left the monitor in there so I could still listen to him.
Bedtime came, I read my 2yo his books, kissed him goodnight, and waited.
He played for a while, was quiet for a few minutes, then started to earnestly cry. When I went to see what was going on, I found him standing in the center of the large room with all his blankets in his arms. His toddler bed was still in the closet with the baby gate resting idly against the wall. He took me back into the closet, got in the toddler bed with his blankets, then cried insistently until I actually PUT THE BABY GATE BACK UP!
He was a little worked up, so I sang him a collection of church hymns until he peacefully fell asleep.
The whole situation really cracked me up! Here he’s been anxious for all this freedom, and then when I give it to him, he wants to crawl back to what is safe and familiar. I guess I really can’t blame him – haven’t we all felt like that at one time or another? He’ll grow into his freedom on his own terms, the way we all have to, and it’ll be fun to watch him negotiate his “new normal.”