An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

Poker face

My friend called yesterday in a mild panic to tell me that her daughter who is two days older than Leta had figured out how to climb out of her crib. She and I read the same children’s sleep book, and I asked her if she had gone back to see what it said about situations like this. She said the advice was a little crazy, that she should lock the door and if the kid gets out of the crib to let her fall asleep on the floor. And also? That she shouldn’t worry if the kid falls while hoisting her body over the railing because the risk of injury is negligible. A scientific expert is suggesting that babies can bounce.

I don’t remember that chapter of the book, but it doesn’t really matter because I’m ignoring the possibility that Leta will ever need to sleep in a bed without bars. However, I’m afraid that if we don’t transition her from the crib into a regular bed soon that we will be facing a battle we could have otherwise avoided. A few months ago we began putting Leta into two-minute time-outs in a small chair against a wall in the living room. I was worried, knowing very well the magnitude of her will in the past (see: that one time she went 30 hours without eating just to prove a point), that she would realize that she could just get up out of the chair and walk away. And the first time we did it she did exactly that, hopped out of the chair, walked over to the book she had thrown across the room, picked it up and looked at me like, do you have any other orders that I can willfully disregard?

I put her right back in the chair, though, and continued to do so when she got up for a second and third time. It was after the third time that her lip began quivering with the realization that, oh my god, this woman is serious, life is a prison. Since that first episode she has never moved an inch when we put her into a time-out, and afterward she won’t even look in the direction of whatever it is that got her in trouble in the first place. She is very much like Chuck this way, and whenever we find a stuffed animal with a missing limb — a duck with no beak, a bunny with no cotton tail, an octopus with only three remaining tentacles — all we have to do is show it to him and he will incriminate himself by collapsing on the floor with his ears glued to the back of his head, his eyes darting wildly around the room to look at something, anything other than the amputee, his entire body full of dread that I will put that toy on his head and take a picture of it to show thousands of people.

I like to believe that we got in our bluff early with Leta, and that maybe if we put her into a regular bed soon she will remain in it until we give her an indication that it’s okay to get out. Not likely, I know, and it will require a bit of work on our part, but she is taking our disciplinary routine so seriously that yesterday she put the cow figurine from Noah’s Ark into a time-out on Elmo’s potty.

“TWO MINUTES!” she screamed while pointing an angry finger into the cow’s face. “SIT THERE FOR TWO MINUTES!”

Those delinquent, biblical cows are always causing trouble.

It didn’t move, of course, and she stood a few feet away with her arms crossed over her chest knowing that it had to stay put because she said so. I think I have just pulled off the ultimate parental coup in that my child now believes that BECAUSE I SAID SO requires no further explanation.

  • My husband and I are currently going through this maddness! We’ve tried the SUPER NANNY techniques, read books, and tried everything but the duct tape and chicken wire…though it’s been discussed!

    Last week we thought we had finally won…boy were we wrong! She climbed out of her crib and layed on the floor next to the door screaming. She knows how to open the door, so we figured since she wasn’t coming out she was “dealing.” After about 10 minutes my husband broke down and went into her room.

    He found a half naked child…peeing on her carpet! “So who’s the boss now!?!”

  • jes

    Next time, will you have the camera ready? We all want to see Leta putting a biblical cow in timeout.

    Also, unsolicited advice: when you do get a bed for her, just put a mattress on the floor – don’t bother with a support system yet. It may be ghetto, but at least she won’t hurt herself if she falls out.

  • Wonked

    If you think your kid is going to use logic and transfer “because I said so” rights to you, YOU have been watching too much Elmo.

    – Wonked

  • I really wish “because I said so” would work with individuals other than two-year-olds.

  • Did you choose two minutes for time out because she is two? I’ve heard that’s the way to figure out how many minutes they can handle, one for each year of life.

    also, and slightly unrelated, I’d love to know how you get that ring effect in your photos, where the edges fade to black a bit.

  • TNW

    I used to fling myself out of my crib all the time, so my parents removed the bars and set the crib on the floor. I didn’t dig that either, so I slept on the floor. I have only minor brain damage as a result…

  • Lori

    When we put my son into a regular bed, it took a few nights of trying to keep him there, but it wasn’t an exhaustive issue. We also used the bed for timeouts (I know I’m an awful parent), but when he was put into bed for a timeout or for bedtime he never got out without permission. I think he was 7 or 8 before figured out that the wrath of God would not descend if his little toes ventured out on his own! You’re a good mom and approaching everything with humor is the key to your sanity. Enjoy her. They just grow up too darn fast!

  • My kid is not quite 2 yet, and we’ve started doing little 1 minute timeouts. We still have to do it in his pack & play, as we do not yet have the ability to keep him still without strapping him down or enclosing him in something.

    We’ve had slightly more success with toy timeouts, where we’ll keep the toy he threw and/or hit me with aside for a minute or two. At first, he’d just go find something else to throw and/or hit me with, but now he’s starting to understand a little better that he’s gotta play by the rules in order to keep the good toys around.

  • We moved our daughter to a big girl bed a few months ago. Mysteriously she thinks there is an invisible force field that is prohibiting her from getting out of the bed. I think because we pushed it against the wall and have one of those safety rails on the other side, she doesn’t think she can physically get out. I know I should tell her otherwise………but why would I want to do that?

  • Just chiming in to say we did the crib mattress on the floor for a little while also. Despite the scientific evidence that children bounce, I was just a little unsure about that methodology. We had to move my oldest out of his crib at 18 months because he was climbing over the rails and plummeting to the ground. Seemed that no bouncing was involved. : )

  • Congratulations. I’m impressed with how well the discipline is working.

  • Just say “Leta. These are the only bars you’ll get in Utah. Enjoy them! Because I said so.”.

  • It’s been so long now that I’ve forgotten what we did to get the girls into big-girl beds. I know my older child was three (!) by the time I caved and fought the Great Bedtime Wars of ’97; and I think my younger child was all agog to get her own bed since her big sister had one.
    But all that’s to the side, here. What I really wanted to say was: Holy Shit! You got her to respect the time-out that fast? I am completely in awe.
    Also? Leta is an amazingly beautiful child. I can’t remember if I ever said that or not, so I’ll tack it on here, to this post that had nothing whatsoever to do with her appearance.

  • rebecca

    Both of my kids started climbing out of the crib at 18 months. We got a toddler bed with a little rail by the headboard & put some pillows on the floor next to it, but neither one fell out more than once or twice. More alarming to me was the possibility of a toddler wandering around the house while we were asleep. For us, the trick to keeping them in their rooms was to put a baby gate in the doorway.

    You take the baby gate down when they start climbing over THAT.

  • We kept our daughter in her crib until way past her third birthday. She never tried to climb out and it was nice to have her in a secure location. She probably would have stayed in the crib longer but the sliding latch thing broke so we converted it to a toddler bed.
    Because she never tried to get out of the crib, she never got out of the toddler bed either … that changed later on, but the transition was smooth.

    I am never sure how to feel when I see my daughter discipling her stuffed animals, but it’s part of her life so I guess it’s her way of taking control of her environment.

  • Chris

    My youngest, Gillian, just the other day decided it would be fun to climb out of her crib. We did an emergency switch to her big-girl bed and after 3 nights she is adjusting well. At first she was afraid of the safety rail, but on night 2 she rolled out of bed. Now she doesn’t mind the safety rail… 🙂

  • fucking cows, man. go leta!

  • Consider yourself lucky that you have made it this far. My daughter began climbing out of the crib at 10 months. We ended up getting one of those tents to go on top. She was fine with it, dare I say even liked it.

    Now at 13 months, she can dismantle the tent and get out on her own. I’ve decided that if she is that innovative, I might as well let her turn on the stove and have breakfast ready for us when we wake up.

    Two tears in a bucket, fuck it. I can’t handle any additional stress. Next week when she wants to get her own apartment, I guess I will have to co-sign the lease.

  • bellabugs_mom

    Consider yourself lucky that you have made it this far. My daughter began climbing out of the crib at 10 months. We ended up getting one of those tents to go on top. She was fine with it, dare I say even liked it.

    Now at 13 months, she can dismantle the tent and get out on her own. I’ve decided that if she is that innovative, I might as well let her turn on the stove and have breakfast ready for us when we wake up.

    Two tears in a bucket, fuck it. I can’t handle any additional stress. Next week when she wants to get her own apartment, I guess I will have to co-sign the lease.

  • lightspring

    Sigh. You will receive LOTS of parenting advice, most of it completely unsolicited. I’m sure you’ve already noticed this. Still, it’s all your decision how to approach various situations in child-rearing. Don’t forget that the first child is totally the guinea pig, and that for any and all subsequent children you will probably do things differently.

    I’ve had four. FOUR!! And I’m still learning. I found, though, that it can pay not to hurry those milestones, like moving to the Big Bed. You’ll find your way, though, AND you’ll do it publicly! So you can’t lie to Leta when she’s older (have you thought of that? “No, honey, we were always Perfect Parents!” Not gonna work, not with the record you’re leaving. You probably won’t be able to keep her from learning to read).

    And the Because I Said So thing? It totally works. Even when they get older.

  • Forgot to add that you know it is time to get the baby a big kid bed when they start climbing out of the thing and climbing ONTO other objects. My niece, the Infamous Evelyn, climbed out of her crib at the age of 13 months and climbed up onto the changing table. From that vantage point, she decided it would be cool to use her dirty diaper to paint the walls a pretty brown color. The smell, I tell you, the SMELL! It was horrible. They immediately transferred her to a big kid bed, and piled it high with toys and other fun stuff, along with some mammoth pillows. Now she has too much fun in bed to go climbing up on furniture to paint fecal artwork.

  • damn you better hope “because I said so” works for many many years to come…..*crossing her fingers and nodding her head* umph

  • My daughter climbed out of the crib at 16 months. We now have a zipped-up tent over her crib.

  • My niece (just over 3) has recently started sitting in her time out chair even when there’s no reason for a time out. My brother and his wife aren’t QUITE sure if making her sit there is going to work so well anymore…!

  • You people are all scaring me! We don’t have kids yet but are trying to adopt. I had no idea that things like sleeping in a crib/staying in one, etc. could be so difficult!

  • Bauer’s Sweetheart

    For our first daughter, we put the big girl bed in the room for a few weeks while she still slept in the crib. Then we would start letting her take naps in the bed, and about a week later moved her to the bed full time. She never got out of the bed and would wait patiently for us to come get her once she woke up. I was worried about her wandering around the house while we slept so we put a hook and eye latch on the outside of the door – which locked her in but was so flimsy that a push from anyone age 10 or older would pop it right out. I figured that was safer in case of a fire than having to climb over or unlatch a gate.

    With our second daughter, my husband just switched out the crib for the bed, and this one gets out of bed once she wakes up. I think the first two nights she wandered out but we put her straight back in and she got the message pretty quick. Now she just yells different comments (“I have a hair in my mouth!” or “Are you watching Big Brother? Why are you laughing?”) for about 15 minutes until she settles down. So I don’t worry about her wandering around at night but I have been lucky enough to wake up to find her staring in my face at 6 am.

  • the transition into a big girl bed was easy for my daughter but, if you can figure out how to show my 3 year how to rein in her exorcist-like emotions, i’ll buy you a new car.

  • Jen

    I swore that my son would sleep in his crib until he was 7, just for my convenience. We had to bribe and basically force him into a toddler bed when he had the potty training thing down at just over 3 yrs. Our daughter (who turned two in June) has been climbing out of her crib for about six months now. We have one of those parent-proof plastic things on her doorknob to keep her in if she decides she’s ready to get out of bed. She’s slept on the floor. Many times. I have no plans on moving her to a toddler bed until *I’m* good and ready because I think that would be an open invitation for her to play all night! She now stays in bed after realizing it’s much nicer than the floor.

  • Meretrice

    I have a three year old Daughter, here is a very old blog entry of mine on how we dealt with the transition from the crib to the bed:

    To summarize, it wasn’t that hard to keep Daughter in place as long as she was unable to turn the door knob on her bedroom door. Sure, on occasion, I would find her curled up on the floor in the morning. Since I hadn’t heard any blood-curdling screams in the night, and her skull was still in one piece, I figured she was okay.

    Once Leta can open her bedroom door (if she can’t already), just use the time-out technique. If she gets out of bed, put her back there with a minimum of fuss and noise. Avoid talking to her whatsoever if you can. She will learn that it is just another situation where Mama is serious, and she will realize she needs to stay in bed.

    Just wait for the fun phase after potty-training is completed. My Daughter has learned that “I gotta go potty!” is a get-out-of-bed-free card. She was up to 5 trips to the potty each night. Now we are playing a poker game wherein my Husband and I try to figure out which of her pleas to vacate her bladder are genuine and which aren’t.

    The loser, of course, changes the sheets.

    Good luck with your wee one. She’s a cutie.

  • Non_Highlighted Heather

    My second child, Ben, had aspirations of Olympic pole vaulting around the time he’d turned one. The kid was a maniac the way he would swing himself over the side of his crib like he’d just won Wimbledon and was jumping the net to shake hands. Not only that, but he could get out of any pajamas that we bought for him. We finally resorted to cutting holes around the parimeter of the tops and bottoms of his pajamas, lacing shoelaces through the holes, and double knotting them. He’d already acquired the humiliating, testosterone laden nickname of Pooh Bear, but once he started the magical pajama routine, he was henceforth and forever known as Pooh-dini. He also looked at life as his own private mosh pit and would tear, pull apart, stomp, or suck on anything he got his hands on. Poor kid, every shot we have of him from the time he was crawling until he went to pre-school he’s in baby jail i.e. the play pen. We used to say that if he’d been our first there might’ve not been a second, but he’s grown into an amazing 12 year old, so full of life and energy and hilarity. I love him to pieces.

    They fall. They crash. They go kaboom. That’s why they’re so squishy, so they can bounce back and keep right on going. Trust your gut. You’ll know when Leta is ready to move to the next level.

    Been reading for a while, first post. You’re a hell of a writer, and a hell of a woman.

  • I was babysitting a kid (for the first time) and he started crying pretty incessantly during his nap time. I was standing outside his door debating whether or not to go in when I heard a horrible thump. I opened the door to find him laying on the floor, now screaming. It was really scary. Luckily he was fine, but his mom was pretty freaked out.

    Oh, the joys of parenting- I can’t wait. 🙂

  • Your daughter is simply precious. And the way you write about her is equally adorable.

    I went through and read your archives the other day. You are an inspiration.

  • Amy

    I figure I’ve got three big transition things to deal with and then I’m home free until Jr. High…

    crib to regular bed (she’s already “climbed” out twice)
    potty training
    getting rid of the pacifiers

    I have no idea how any of those things will happen. I’m hoping for magic!

  • Toddlers DO Bounce.
    They are a wonderful thing
    the tops are made out of rubber
    And their bottoms are made out of springs.

    Aww crap…that was Tiggers. I need to go check on my kid.

  • Jeannine

    For whatever reason, I was given a very active, big boy who had absolutely no desire to climb out of his crib and we sure didn’t show him. He turned three yesterday (and wears 5T clothing) and could have easily gotten out. In fact, he had figured out how to climb in, but not out.

    On Friday we moved him to his “big boy bed”, which he thinks is fabulous. With the exception of him coming to visit us at 1 am on Monday night, no problems…yet. I have no idea how we got so lucky.

  • Feel lucky she waited until now to climb out! We had to convert our crib to a toddler bed at 18 months. No problems though, and I am in complete agreement with the Hands Free Gate with the pedal. We have 3 of them and they work fantastically- until he figured that out at 2 years old. The trick there is to buy a set of those cheap cabinet latches that look like a stretched out letter U and lock the gate with them. Now we have the gate off his room but still have them on the study and our bedroom to keep him away from temptation!

    And as far as So You Think You Can Dance goes… Go Benji! We watched the show last summer and it was our guilty pleasure then- we are addicted now- thank goodness for the DVR!

    Also dooce- we have the female equivalent of chuck, looks so much like him it is scary!

  • We moved when my son was 28 months old, and set up a race car toddler bed at our new house instead of the crib. We made a big deal of going to Target and buying new bedding, and he made the transition just fine. He did start getting up on his own in the mornings and waking me up, but now, at almost five, he goes downstairs on his own and plays quietly. We have to leave his door open because his room is very hot at night. We never did the baby gate thing; I think he would have dismantled it and hurled it down the stairs.

    Time out still doesn’t work for me. I’ve watched most episodes of Supernanny and read many parenting books, but it is rare that my son will sit in time out without some major threatening. If he does choose to sit there, he will kick his legs on the wall or start yelling at me.

    School starts tomorrow. I can’t wait!

  • oh I can’t wait for the day my daughter will be able to understand what I say and maybe (on occasion) do so.
    (7 months old just doesn’t respond to much, although if I say, “Ah ah ahaaaa” she’ll freeze and turn to look at me with wonder in hopes of distracting my from the fact she still is reaching for whatever I just “ah ah ahhhh”ed her away from)

  • isn’t it scary sometimes when you realize you have to think about every little thing you do with or in front of your kids because you KNOW they WILL copy it. giving a plastic-cow a time-out is one of the cutest things i’ve ever heard 🙂

  • I dread the day Austen starts yelling at his toys the way I occasionally yell at him. I don’t want to see him pulling his hair out and turning purple because he JUST CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE. Enough with the bad toys!

    Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to the day that he understands the purpose of the Naughty Chair — and respects my authority enough to stay in it BECAUSE I SAID SO.

  • Stacey

    Gotta Love Leta! We just started putting our 5-year-old in the corner for his punishment with the oven timer telling him when he was through. I tried standing over him to make sure he didn’t move but I realized I’M NOT ON PUNISHMENT. He knew that if he acted up in the corner, I’d have to stand there a long time, too, so he’d keep it up. Now I just go on about my business and that makes him think about what he’s missing out on having to stand in the corner. Each time he violates the ‘corner rules’ he has to stay an extra minute and it has taken a little time but he’s used to it now. He’s probably just plotting. Probably. Yes. He is.

  • far and away the farthest

    My daughter, who is much smarter than I, found this incredible future bunkbed that stand on its head and is a toddler bed with a huge cover like a covered wagon above the upper frame. I think she was recalling the joy of a sheet draped over a card table that was her childhood cave. This was in response to glancing up at the moniter to see Toddler Guy standing at the door of his room where he had materialized from being in his crib.

    Anyway, when Toddler Guy came home from preschool they were assembling this magic thing in his room. He was entranced. They have pictures of him grabbing the top frame and climbing in while they were still assembling it. He dubbed it his ‘big boy bed’ and the beloved crib was now the ‘baby bed’. For a time he was all gleefully eager to get into his bed. Then came the day when he had that epiphany and realized the climbing down part worked just fine in this bed. So, they put him back several times and then just said it looked like he had to sleep in the ‘baby bed’. Oh, the horror and wailing. Now the ‘baby bed’ is like a little soldier doing the crossed arm thing. Smart daughter.

  • SoonerGal

    my daughter perfected this practice of climbing out of her crib when she was just over a year old! after freaking out, I went to the store and bought a crib tent that attaches to your crib. you can purchase them on-line at Babies-R-Us or Just type in crib tent. Hope this helps!
    And BTW, Leta and I have the same birthday! How cool is that?

  • Connor’s Mom

    My son started to have nightmares and sleeping terribly at 1 1/2. At that time we moved him to a “big boy bed” with truck sheets. Still, nightmares and no sleeping for anyone. Our dr. said to try putting a tall gate across his door, so he would have to stay put, but wouldn’t feel scared and trapped in his room. Works like a dream!

  • mslieder

    I used the phrase, “Because I’m the mother and you are the child” clear up until my daughter was 24. It always stopped her cold.

    When she was smaller, I would occasionally get fed up and pull out all the stops and say, “Because God said so!”

    The sad part was one day we were in a grocery store and my kid proceeded to throw a fit because I wouldn’t buy her something (probably candy). She was in the seat of the cart, bawling her eyes out so the whole store could hear. I just kept calmly saying, “I told you No.” She would say, “Why?” over and over again real loud, with that pressure-filled cry, but I wouldn’t give in. She finally got me back when in that same loud cry she said, “Why? Because God said so?”

    Damn kids.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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