We had a jail-break over the holidays. Much to our horror, Squish managed to snap one of the slats of his crib, and suddenly the beast was uncaged. I dutifully took the crib apart, as it was much too dangerous to continue to use. But the question remained. How do you contain a three-year-old adrenaline junkie with no sense of self-preservation? And then it came to me like lightning from the blue. Or Lightning McQueen from Cars. A tent.
So I bought one for my darling little stunt-driver. The crib mattress was an exact fit. It’s almost like they were made for each other. Squish was enthralled. The first night, he climbed in it, and we never heard another peep from him. Until 3am. And that’s where my critique begins.
We didn’t quite realize how much colder it is down there on the floor, and he has the body-fat of an Olympic swimmer. We only put him to bed with his regular blankies, and he woke up shivering. The next night, we were prepared. We got out a heavy blanket to tuck around him at bed time. That was when we discovered that this tent is built for the under-five set. The largest opening is triangular and about 18 inches wide at the base, so I can get my head and one arm inside without collapsing the whole thing. Tucking can be done if the tuck-ee remains perfectly still in the center of the mattress. Squish has cooperated. So far.
But then come the inevitable midnight bathroom runs. Retrieving a mostly-sleeping, but uncomfortably full toddler from a tiny tent opening isn’t pretty. It mostly involves a sort of breech-birth in which I grab him by the feet and drag him out into the world. In the dark. Then I am forced to either frog march him to the bathroom or lift him from a squatting position. I can count his pee-breaks as exercise, right? My quads feel the burn.
The biggest entertainment comes when returning the little sleepyhead to his bed. It’s like threading a needle with a wet spaghetti noodle. After much
pushing/shoving/grousing coaxing, I finally get his little pajama-clad self back into the tent. And then I have to grope around in the dark for his blankets. And try to tuck him in without turning on the light or completely covering his head. By the time I have him settled and snug, I’m so cold I can’t go back to sleep, and I am berating myself for actually paying money for this instrument of torture. Isn’t this fun?
The tent is not forever, of course. It’s a stop-gap measure to help him learn a little self-control before he moves to his big-boy bed in his brother’s room. With the bunk bead. And a snake. And ten thousand legos that fit nicely up a nostril. On second thought, I wonder if I can keep him in the tent until he’s twelve.