When you have kids, everyone warns you, appreciate the baby days because they don’t last long.
Most of the time, this transition is gradual and passes by unnoticed until suddenly you’re celebrating a milestone birthday or sending them off to college.
That being said, there are certain moments where it just suddenly hits you — and that’s what happened to me this week.
My youngest son, Sam, is growing up. His words are exploding, he’s using a spoon and he’s (trying) to ride a tricycle. Now, these are all typical behaviors of a kid his age but there was one thing that caught me completely off guard: he started climbing out of his crib.
In hindsight, I should have seen it coming. He already climbs on everything else in the house. I’m actually amazed I was able to keep him in the crib for as long as I did. But still, I was unprepared because his older brother, Ben, never did.
There is no official “How to” book on parenting. With kids, everything is subjective so the age where one child might be ready for something could be vastly different that of another.
The general rule I gleaned from asking other parents was when they can climb out of crib, they’re ready for a toddler bed. Well, with Ben, since he never climbed out, he slept in that crib until he basically outgrew it. We then moved him to a twin.
But Ben was pushing 4. Sam’s 2.
The first day he did it was when my in-laws were dropping Ben off from an afternoon out. I was trying to lay Sam down for a nap and as they were leaving, he decided he wanted to go with them. He threw his leg over the rail and slid down with Olympic level agility, sprinting after them out the door.
I felt my first twinge of worry that the crib days might be numbered at that point, but remembered his mattress wasn’t at the lowest setting. I could drop it another six inches and hopefully keep him contained at nap and bed time for a few more weeks at least.
Because crib companies apparently have something against using regular Phillips or flat-head screws I spent an afternoon hunting down an appropriately sized Allen wrench and then several hours messing around with his crib trying to lower his mattress.
Finally success. I laid Sam down in bed that night and hadn’t even made it down the hall before he (again) scaled the crib railing and came running up behind me.
That happened a few more times that night before he eventually gave up and fell asleep.
But in the course of a day, my once-great-sleeper became a nightmare child when it came to naps. What’s more, his shins and thighs became riddled with little splotchy bruises from his repeated escape attempts.
I gave up and took the side railing off his crib, turning it into a sort of toddler day bed and the weirdest thing happened: he stopped getting out.
Now, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t fall out of bed — that happens pretty much every night — but he’s no longer intentionally getting up.
Instead, come bed time, Sam snuggles deep into his pillow, carefully tucked in with blankets and his stuffed Mickey Mouse, whispers “night-night” to me and sticks his forehead out for a kiss.
And it hit me — all at once — that he’s not a baby anymore, he’s a toddler. And Ben isn’t a toddler anymore, he’s a little boy.
I can’t seem to quite wrap my head around this because I swear I just went from having a newborn and a 3-year-old. How did they get so big so fast?
If the last two years slipped by like this, what do the next few hold in store? Am I going to look up to find them suddenly taking their driver’s tests? Getting prom dates? Getting married?
Why are they in such a hurry to grow up? Don’t they know being a grown-up is entirely overrated?
My parents probably tried to tell me the same thing when I was a kid but who knows? Maybe mine will listen.
There’s a first time for everything.