The End of An Era



January 16, 2000

Yesterday marked the end of an era at Casa de Atkins.

My daughter climbed out of her room.

Climbed? Yes, climbed. Over the gate and out of her room.

Zoe was in a crib until she was about 26 months. I always figured that when she climbed out of her crib it would be time to move her to a bed. The thing is, that never happened. So she stayed in her crib.

The beauty of the crib is that she wasn't wandering the house at all hours of the night and/or climbing into bed with us. Nap time was indisputable because she couldn't get out of her room. Same thing with bed time. It was a beautiful thing.

Last August, after she'd been in preschool for five months, was potty trained, and spoke in complete sentences Chuck and I figured it was time already. So off we toddled to Toys R Us and picked up a toddler bed.

(For you non-parents, or new ones for that matter, a toddler bed is a bed in miniature. It is lower to the ground, generally, and with built in rails, generally. The beauty of a toddler bed is that your crib mattress fits in it perfectly. You see, it's the same size as a crib but it's a bed.)

Now our little princess was in a big girl bed. She loved it. It was too adorable. Our baby was growing up. It was, however, not a thing of beauty, because unlike the crib, if Zoe didn't want to be in it, all she had to do was get out of it.

She was now free to roam. Free to roam until she got caught that is. And she always got caught.

So, we put up the gate. I've talked about the dreaded gate before. She hates that gate. I love that gate.

We used to keep the gate up all night and when Zoe would wake up in the morning she would stand in her doorway and call us. "Hey, you guys, come get me." Yes, she would call us "you guys." Nice, hunh?

Then, we decided it would be ingenious to take the gate down before we went to bed. This way she could just get up and come to our room when she woke up in the morning. Read that last sentence carefully. The in the morning part being the key element. Well, I don't remember when she finally figured out that the gate was coming down before daddy came to bed, but figure it out she did. And since then, with the exception of maybe two or three nights, she wakes up, generally just as Chuck is dozing off, and comes to our bed to sleep with us.

This is a double-edged sword. On the plus side, when Zoe sleeps with us she generally sleeps a bit later. OK, this is a major plus. Or if she does wake up early she can watch TV in our bed so whoever's turn it is to get up can get a few extra minutes of shuteye. On the down side, my 36 pound daughter takes the space of three regular-sized adults when she sleeps. She flips and flops. She kicks and punches. She tosses and turns. She's horizontal and vertical. She is under the covers then over the covers. It makes for an altogether difficult night of sleep for everyone but her. But she's delicious, so we move on.

The thing is, she didn't get out of her room until we were ready for her to be. The gate kept her in there.

Until last night.

I could see it coming the night before when she informed me that she knew how to get out of her room when the gate was up. She told me, but she didn't do it.

Last night she did. About five separate times. I saw her do it one time. She didn't see me seeing her but I saw it.

Tonight she only did it twice. After she got caught the first time I put the brand new Ariel flashlight she got at Little Mermaid on Ice, in Toy Jail until tomorrow. Until tomorrow if she didn't get out of her room again. If she did, there was no telling when Ariel would get out of Toy Jail. Well, you know she was out of her room again.

I guess the next step would be to close her door. I can't bring myself to go that route though.

Maybe Toys R Us has a six foot tall gate?

Until next time...

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