It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time


He's stronger than he looks.


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.


Wow! What could possibly be wrong with this amazing apparatus?


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.

39 thoughts on “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

  1. You’ve gotta get a tent big enough for a mom. Its a handy hiding place when all of your children simultaneously have ‘life altering’ emergencies that only you can help them with.

  2. While I can see how the logistical difficulties for you are a real problem, I still know that when I was Squish’s age, I would have LOVED that tent! After being well insulated for warmth, it’s a three year old boy’s dream! So as in so much of what is involved in motherhood, you’re making your little boy a happy camper at your expense, but if the price gets too steep I’d be the first to understand.

    I love your blog! 🙂 Which is why I’m now giving you The Versatile Blogger Award. I picked you two days ago, but between my time spent on WordPress and watching the NFL playoffs, my wife was threatening to have me declared legally dead and collect on my life insurance. So I needed to show her some love.

    But here it is, and congratulations, because I really enjoy what you do here! 🙂

  3. Beautiful! If I had a penny for every item I bought that seemed a good idea at the time but turned out to be utterly useless/thoroughly annoying/downright dangerous… Raising kids is such an adventure sometimes. Thanks for the laugh.

  4. Hilarious image. Brilliant parenting. Perhaps some velcro on one of the corners — cut and pieced back together so that Mom AND Dad can get in in case of bear attacks.

  5. Thats too funny! My kids had tents (many moon ago!) and they probably lasted ummmm two weeks! lol So there is hope…. I found the best tents are the old blankets sewn together… I’ve even bought them at garage sales etc and (after washing thoroughly!) sewed them up and then used folding chairs as the “tent spikes” lol… I enjoy your writing!! Hugs! Leslie

    • My middle son had a tent that was an actual tent. It was so much better made, and that was what I was hoping for. That thing lasted for 6 years! This one is on the cheap side. But it has made him very happy, and it has kept him contained at sleeping times, which makes it a miracle worker!

  6. This post is my future. My younger toddler son has just started the “wah-wah..wah-wah..mama…mama” mantra in the middle of the night as if his thirst were that of a nomad sucking on a giant salt lick in the middle of the Sahara.

  7. Pingback: Slackass has entered the building: Awards Final Phase IV « Articles of Absurdity

  8. You’ve got to cut the floor out of the tent so it still looks like the real thing. Then at night you can lift up up, off your sleepy son, and replace it when he lies down again! Maybe leave a floor flap that you can tuck under to hold it better.

  9. I remember loving my bed tent so much when I was his age! I’d get one for my daughter (she’s almost 3, too!), but she and the cat managed to tear down her Dora the Explora bed canopy in record time, so I don’t think the tent would fare any better.

  10. I am at the grandchildren stage now, but I feel your pain. My grandson often sleeps in a Thomas tent my son decided he needed to ‘store’ here when he’s not in my bed with his feet up my back side. The things we do for love….

    Thanks to Loralee – found you on her blog. Angie

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