Raphael learned to climb out of his crib months ago. If I were a good mother, I would have switched him to a big-boy bed by now. But I figure, hey, I’d just have to find a suitably sturdy set of guardrails to keep him from falling out of his bed, and his crib already has these bars all around…sort of like a full set of guard rails! Nice, huh? It has nothing to do with the fact that once he’s out of his crib he’s no longer a baby and my life is utterly, completely devoid of babies. Oh noooo. It’s a practical decision.
Anyhow, my solution has been to keep the side rail of his crib down, so he doesn’t have too far to climb. This works well. He’s safe from falls and clambers in and out with ease.
The problem arises at naptime. He really doesn’t have a concept of time, or sleeping, or any of those abstract details. Most of the time when I put him down for a nap he’s exhausted, and falls asleep within minutes. Then when he wakes up an hour or two later, he climbs out of bed and staggers to the top of the stairs. He doesn't remember sleeping, so he's never sure if his nap is over or not. He tentatively calls out, “Mama? Ah just waked up?” I come and stand at the bottom of the stairs and smile encouragingly up at him, “You sure did, baby! Why don’t you come down here with us?” Mightily relieved, he scampers down the stairs and back into life.
But sometimes when I put him down to nap he doesn’t fall asleep right away. Sometimes he lies there and chatters to himself for a few minutes, then grows bored and climbs out. Today he’d been in bed no more than three minutes when I heard the thump and trot of an escaping small boy. I was already on my way up the stairs when he rounded the corner. His happy expression melted at the sight of me marching his way. He skidded to a stop then worked up his best innocent face. “Mama? Ah waked up?”
“No, son. You didn’t wake up because you didn’t go to sleep.”
“But ah don’ wanna go sweep.”
“I know, but it’s time for your nap. If you don’t sleep you’ll be grumpy and sad.” I leaned over to scoop him up and we headed back to his room. He was clearly not convinced that his nap was not, in fact, over.
“But ah talked and talked an’ den ah waked up!”
“No, you haven’t slept yet. You need to stay in your crib and sleep a little. Sweet dreams, honey.” I deposited him in his crib and pulled his blankets over him. He eyed me suspiciously.
“Mama? Maybe yoo bein’ mean.”
“No, Raphi, I’m not being mean.”
He kicked the covers off and sighed. I turned to go.
“Can yoo cover to me?”
“Ok, I’ll put your covers on you, but this is the last time. You need to sleep.”
“Yoo not bein’ mean?”
“No, I’m not. Sweet dreams, and I’ll see you soon.”
As I turned to go, I heard him mutter to his stuffed giraffe, “She bein’ mean.”
I am unjustly accused.