Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Big Girl Bed

You don't know the meaning of 'bittersweet' until you take apart a crib.

Bed shopping wasn't too bad. Back when we bought the crib for The Boy – six years ago, amazingly – we got a 'convertible,' which means the big back part could come off and be used as the headboard for a bed. We didn't bother converting it when The Boy grew out of it, since The Girl was on the way. We moved him a few months before she arrived, so he wouldn't blame her for being displaced, and put him in what had been the guest bed. (Unimaginable luxury! The fiscal privileges of the childless...) So the crib stayed a crib after TB left it, and TG moved in. This time, all we had to do was find a mattress and box spring, since we still have the metal frame from my old one. No biggie.

Yesterday I broke the crib down. The guys with the box spring and mattress are coming today.

Part of the challenge was manual. My history with shop classes and the like could be described as 'unfortunate,' and I've never been accused of being handy. Per usual, this one took several trips to Home Depot, as each new solution was wrong in a slightly different way. (Aside: I was lied to all those years ago, when I learned that the industrial revolution brought with it interchangeable parts. Interchangeable, my ass. Everything I've ever had to fix has been 'custom' in one way or another. Have you seen the 'bolts' selection at Home Depot? Sheesh.) And let's just say that the less time I spend with an electric drill in my hands, the happier we'll all be. My personal vision of hell involves installing an endless series of window treatments.

Honestly, though, the frustrations of attaching the metal frame to the wood 'headboard' were a kind of blessing, since they spared me the chance to reflect on what I was doing. The Wife wasn't spared. When she came in and saw the crib disassembled and the headboard in front of the frame, it all hit her at once. As she sobbed and I held her, it started to hit me, too.

Our baby girl is growing up.

She's a sweet kid, when she isn't pitching one of her diva fits. In the family tradition, she's tall for her age with big brown eyes. She loves Curious George and following her brother around. She knows her alphabet, and can even put words to some of the letters (“D is for dog!”). She has an ever-evolving OCD-ish bedtime ritual that we must follow, lest she go thoroughly ballistic. (Kiss the nose, then the forehead, then one cheek, then the other, then hug, then the lips, then hug again. Then exchange “I love you too”s and “goodnight”s, and make sure the pillow propped up against the door has the flowers facing right-side-up. Next week, she'll probably change it again. Luckily, she provides real-time directions.)

When she sees her little playmates, she yells “friends!” and charges them full-bore, stopping short just in time to give a bear hug without knocking them both over.

Yesterday she flew into a rage when The Boy referred to her as a baby. If there's a nastier word in the English language, well, she hasn't heard it.

It won't be long before she starts preschool.

She's our last, so the passing of each phase is a little more painful with her than with TB. With TB, at least we could console ourselves that we'd see that phase again soon. Now, we're without a crib for the first time since we became parents. Soon we'll say goodbye to sippy cups and the high chair.

It's not that we don't want her to grow up. We're ridiculously proud of each new accomplishment. When she says a new word, or does something thoughtful, we're thrilled. There's something fulfilling, and hopeful, about watching a child become herself. TG is more complicated than her brother, for good and bad. She gets more complicated by the day, and it's great fun watching her put her world together in ways that only she would. And she's such a loving kid that even the diva fits pass quickly. When she flashes those big brown eyes at you and smiles, well, that's it.

It's just hard to know that she'll never be our baby again.

She's excited for the Big Girl Bed, as she will be for the Big Kid Chair, and school, and soccer, and all those milestones. So are we, mostly.

Congratulations on moving up in the world, TG. We're right there with you, even if we're a few steps behind and a little misty.