growing up · slice of life

Big Girl Bed

NOTE: This is a flash draft I wrote for Carl Anderson’s section at the TCRWP Writing Institute that I’m taking this week.  This is not a complete piece.  For instance, the part about Isabelle’s first night in the bed is probably the most important part.  It should be fleshed out.  The stuff that comes before it isn’t that important.  Also, the ending, which was mentored after a poem Carl showed us, isn’t write for this narrative.

I wrote this flash draft in 15 minutes.  As a result, it is going to need major revisions.  Nonetheless, it’s a slice of life so I thought I’d share it as part of today’s Slice of Life Story Challenge.

She isn’t any more ready for a big girl bed than I am. A big girl bed means we have to keep the gate at the top of the stairs closed whenever she is upstairs. A big girl bed means she can wander the house if she wakes up in the middle of the night. A big girl means the days of containment are over. But even though I’m not ready for Isabelle to be in a big girl bed, I had no choice but to let her try out a big girl bed at my parents’ house this past weekend since she outgrew the porta-crib.

Marc suggested I place Schlepp, Baby Clara, and Teddy on the big girl bed before she walked upstairs on Saturday. As soon as we arrived at Bubbe and Zayde’s house, I bee-lined upstairs to place the three of them on her bed along with her pink blanket and a burpie. When she got upstairs her blueberry eyes fixed on the stuffed animals sitting on the big girl bed as if to say “I know you, but what are you doing on top of that big bed?”

Zayde pointed to the bed and told Isabelle that’s where she’d be sleeping now since she was a big girl. She tried to get up to the top of the bed, but it was too high. “Up, up, up,” Isabelle said. “Help!”

“Start with need,” I prompted (always the speech therapist, I know!)

“Need help,” Isabelle said.

Once atop the mattress, Zayde invited Isabelle to lay down while I used my best bear voice to impersonate Schlepp who said, “we’re going to sleep here tonight.”

After a few minutes, we dropped the bed talk. It came up a few more times before bedtime, but we didn’t obsess on the bed talk.

In fact, when bedtime came, I read Good night, laila tov to Isabelle. I pulled the pink blanket on top of her and rubbed her back ’til she said, “Bye bye mama.”

“Okay sweet girl. Good night. I love you.”

“Zayde, zayde!” she said.

“Do you want Zayde to come in and tuck you in?”

“Yes,” Isabelle responded.

“Dad, would you come in here to say good night to Isabelle?”

“Sure,” he said kindly.

Moments after she said good night to my dad, Isabelle said, “Bubbe, bubbe, bubbe!”

“Mom!” I called. “Will you come in here and tuck Isabelle in?”

“Of course.”

What was next? I thought. A glass of water?!!?

But that was it. Isabelle was ready for lights out right after my mom said her good night to Isabelle. And soon enough, she was asleep.

All was going well… for three and a half hours. And that’s when I heard the cries. I heard Isabelle bawling through our shared bedroom wall. My mom went in to console her, but the sobs grew louder… until I came in. Then the crying stopped.  Our house became musical beds for awhile, with Isabelle demanding to have me sleep with her in my parents bed.  Bubbe could stay, but Zayde had to go.  But she didn’t fall asleep.  Musical beds again when I insisted she return to her bed.  But she started crying.  So I sandwiched myself into a twin bed with her and stayed there all-night-long. When she sat up at 7:10 a.m., I told her to stay put. I marched into my parents’ room and begged my dad to “take my kid” so I could go back to sleep.

An Answer to the Question: Did she sleep through the night on night two?


She even slept-in!


8 thoughts on “Big Girl Bed

  1. Been there doing that-I sleep on the floor sometimes. I understand the whole musical bed thing-and wondering around in the middle of the night. It’s odd how children are different. Once I got Kam into the routine, he was fine. Natalie is a different story-there is nothing routine about her nighttime oddities-hopefully she will settle a little bit as she nears closer to being 3. Glad all is well with you and Isabelle and the big girl bed-great idea to put the bears there btw.

  2. Love how you captured this important transition in this quick write. Well on your way to a polished piece, I’m sure. Your parents’ grandparent names are great! I’m sure you’ve written about that before, but I don’t think I read it. (Or maybe my memory is the problem)

  3. What I took away from this slice is that Isabelle has the gift of love – everyone wanted her first night in a big bed to be a comforting experience, and everyone pitched in to make sure Isabelle knew that her family was with her. A child who is so loved is a special child, indeed…and very lucky, too!

  4. I loved reading your preface with your thinking on how you might want to revise this quick draft. Good for Isabelle settling in to a change in the normal routine.

  5. I, too, shared work that i did with Carl in July for my SOL. He is amazing and will certainly continue to mentor you to develop this piece from wonderful to even more wonderful. I remember those days well. They are precious. Enjoy even the struggle.

  6. The nights vary, sometimes good, sometimes not so much, yet you all gave her such a great start, Stacey, with Zayde and Bubbe there too! Glad about the 2nd night’s success-nice for you!

  7. Whew! That sounds like an exhausting night! I’m amazed that she slept through all of the second one, and even slept in! For a quick-write, you really included a lot of little details — without your preface, I wouldn’t have realized!

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