Baby Bea is quickly buzzing her way along to her next milestone marker of being eighteen months old. She’s really not a baby at all any more and is growing up so fast. She’s hit that age I remember loving with Sam. Suddenly she isn’t a baby lump but is a little toddling person, a daredevil child who likes to climb up high and explore everything. She likes to be on top of the tallest table and go down the big slide by herself. I blink, and I can lose her in seconds as she moves at breakneck speed, everywhere.
I truly caught a glimpse of this metamorphosis at the playground yesterday. Bea grabbed a bucket and spade and headed into the sandpit, content to move away from mummy and join the other children hard at work with diggers and dump trucks in the construction zone. With great focus she found herself a place in the sand and diligently filled and emptied her bucket. I wondered who this child was and where had she suddenly come from?
She has really come into herself over the last couple of weeks and the change in her is staggering. A month ago I was worrying because she always seemed so tired and would sleep an awful lot through the day. Thinking I was keeping her safe from her big brother and giving her some personal space I would put her in her playpen to play. If I had to deal with an unruly Sam I’d quickly set her in her cot so I wouldn’t worry about her while setting her brother straight. I don’t think this was doing her any favours and thinking back I feel bad.
Bea would quickly toss out all her toys from her enclosed space and then when half hearted attempts to climb out would fail she’d settle down on the mat, put her comfort fingers in her mouth and close her lovely eyes. Returning from whatever Sam catastrophe had pulled me away I would find a sleeping beauty, and often she would refuse attempts at reawakening, preferring to slumber on uninterrupted. Often she would settle straight down into nap mode as soon as she got confined. I realised something had to done.
A month ago I got rid of the play pen and I got rid of the cot. A surprised Daddy came home from work to find that I had doggedly hauled Sam’s toddler bed down from the attic and set it up for Beatrice.
Bea’s reaction was instant. Crazy girl went wild when she saw her new bed. She didn’t even need her big brother to show her how to climb on up and start bouncing. She shrieked and giggled and plopped down flat on tummy to hug the mattress. I’m pretty sure she liked it. She was immediately energised.
I was nervous switching her, and I’m sure Daddy was unconvinced but accepting that his wife had made another rash decision, but we really haven’t looked back. Bea has taken to her new sleeping arrangements very happily. She loves being able to get up on her own and get to all her toys in the room. She sleeps through the night and I’m not woken up her crying in the morning. Instead I am alerted by little feet padding around on floorboards and toys crashing around in her room. She has a renewed interest in her toys and plays with them now instead of just throwing them away from her. When she is really tired Bea will also now put herself down for a rejuvenating nap. She’ll disappear and go quiet, and I’ll find her lying on her mattress buried beneath the covers. When she wakes she gets up and plays, no more lying in bed with her eyes open and hand in her mouth. She’s no longer bored and seemingly using naptime to numb time passing. I’m very relieved.
An unexpected added bonus has been a newfound love between siblings. Bea is still brutally shocked into moments of terror by her big brother, but we have had far more happy times since she left the cot. I wonder if Sam now sees her as more of a real playmate than a curious lump to goad when let out from behind her bars? The nicest sound in the world is the sound of gleeful shrieks and giggles emanating from Bea’s room as Sam and Bea entertain each other nicely. Sam gets cross and angry if Bea ventures into his room, that still needs a bit of remedial work, but he loves to go into Bea’s room to play with her. He’ll even bring in favourite cars so they can race together. Yesterday I heard him letting her hold one of his prize possessions, “Uncle Simon’s Polo Race Car.”
Sam put Bea to bed. I was changing her into her bedtime clothes and came in to help. He realised there was no blanket on the bed so he went to get a clean one from the laundry. He tucked a sleepy Bea up under it, gently making sure her toes were covered. Favourite toys strewn around the room were gathered up. Sam decided that Bea needed to sleep with her doggy and his Spotty Dog, so he tucked those in next to her. Incredulously I watched, ready to jump into an unnecessary crisis aversion mode, as in his own way Sam and Bagpuss read Bea a short board book bedtime story. Bea looked back at him with sleepy wide eyes. Sam then quietly told her how much he loved her, “I love you very so much Bea, I love my little sister.” He wished her good night and gave her a hug and a kiss. Okay, the hug was a little forceful and after months of bullying the kiss was a big surprise and probably more like being eaten by a dinosaur. Bea cried. The moment was lost, but it was amazing while it lasted.