Oct 26 2007
And just like that, the crib is gone. The baby is a child. Parenthood is filled with moments when you realize your kid is getting older — that the sands of time wait for no one and spill through the hour glass as quick or slow as they please.
When times are bad, they slacken to a trickle. And when things are good, they slip through as if powered by jet fuel.
We bought my daughter a big kid bed a few weeks back when we determined that her legs won’t stop growing and that if she keeps sleeping in her crib, we’ll eventually wake up one morning to find her so pinned in between the bars that the jaws of life will be required to cut her out. You never know when a toddler’s growth spurt might kick in.
The bed-buying experience was much more emotional for my wife. From my point of view, it wasn’t much of a big deal. So what? She needs a new bed? OK, let’s go.
But my wife was attached to the crib. She thought about leaving it up in the room, and still won’t think of totally parting with it. It’s one of the last vestiges of our little girl being a baby. Even the photos of her as a newborn look unrecognizable and eons ago — not just 22 months in our past.
But this crib was a tie to that past.
I never thought much of it. Not that it wasn’t nice. By the hole in my wallet that still burns today, I’ll tell you it was nice. But a crib to me is like a hotel room in New York City: Who cares how nice it is as you’ll spend so little time there.
I remember the day we bought it, my wife’s belly bulging like an engorged water buffalo. My child was a big kid in the womb, and little Nancy was almost as wide as she was tall. We wandered the store with ideas about how things would go, what parenthood would be like, and how this would happen or how that would work out. We’d put her in the crib when we wanted her to sleep, and she would. Dumb fools we were then!
We found the perfect crib — one that fit us, and the kid we were having — and I remember putting it together with such joy and care. I did it in the living room, proud of my first major accomplishment as a father (if you don’t count what I did to get myself there in the first place) and I pushed it toward the door of her room … only to find it wouldn’t fit through.
I put that crib together twice.
Over the months, my daughter transformed from a little lump who struggled just to roll over in her crib to a little girl who can now bounce on the mattress, climb the bars, and these days, exit at will in the middle of the night to take up residence in our bed.
That crib has seen it all. That’s what started occurring to me as I broke it down one day at lunch, her new “big kid” mattress already laid out and her new bed frame at the store, waiting for us to pick it up.
This was the last time this little girl would use the crib, and I was kind of sad and nostalgic as I disassembled it. There’s no going back in childhood. You might have another kid, and they might use the same crib, but this little one is moving on. She’s growing up. As I pulled the screws out and took apart the drawer that slid in underneath, it felt like I was closing a page of her life. And I was.
The crib is sitting in a heap on her floor. My wife worried that when our girl saw it, she might get upset. But instead, she just smiled and said, “Boom!” I guess she thought it exploded.
She’s getting older and isn’t looking back. Sentimentality is for big kids.
So goodbye, crib. My little girl’s growing up.