Thursday, September 4, 2008

The big move -it happened last night. Well, not THE BIG MOVE, which is months from now, but a pretty big move for the Little Ditchman, who stepped it up into a full-size bed last night in the "new" bedroom. Out of the crib and into the fire. We send our kids out into the Big World and wonder if they'll be okay. Or if they'll ever come back.

We had been talking it up for weeks, nay, months, and took her out to see all the beds at some soulless furniture store. Our little Ditchman, of course, picked the one we had had our eyes on and climbed right up on top of it, The Little Queen of Everything. She gave it a few test jumps, and it seemed bouncy enough. We filled out all the paperwork and lo! it was delivered on Tuesday. "I like my new bed!" she exclaimed.

So last night after bath time we asked her if she wanted to sleep in her baby crib or her Big Girl Bed. She was standoffish at first and we didn't push her on it, but at one point she just came around and asked about it so we walked her in. This came not without some formal, but tender, diplomacy, sensitive preliminary negotiations, and certain back-room preconditions. We moved some of her clothes in there, and a bunch of her favorite toys had been moved weeks earlier. The weight of heady symbolism was advanced when, one by one, I removed the letters of her name off the wall over the crib and carried them to the New World like it was her majesty's flag. She stood there as I did this the other day, watching me as I wiped the dust off of them. I left the tiny mantle hanging emptily above the crib to drive home the point, and I wouldn't be surprised if, last night after storytime, she looked over at the crib and saw her name missing and felt like she was just in the wrong room. (Sorry kid, you are.)

She took to it like a champ -certainly better than her parents did. Downstairs in the kitchen, Mommy and I shared a semi-sad moment: "Oh, our little girl is getting so big" and so forth. We wondered if she'd ever take a nap again -why would she stay in a bed that didn't cage her in? And: what if she rolls off it in the middle of the night? And: what happens when she wakes in the morning? Is she just going to go downstairs, plop on the couch and turn on the tele? All on her own? (Well then, teach her how to work the coffee-maker!)

The bed is something of a sacred place, and from time to time you graduate to a new one. It's the place where it all starts and the place where you leave it all behind. Shakespeare knew this when he famously named his wife in his will, leaving her his "second-best bed". Much has been made of this. Most literary historians think that this note in the will reflects a certain enmity between the Shakespeares, but in Olden Tymes the best bed in the house was reserved for guests, so this would have been Will and Anne's marital bed. Also, back then the bed was often the most expensive thing in the house, rivaling the house itself in worth, so it was no thoughtless gesture. But I'm a sentimentalist, and I know that the best bed in the house is the mother's breast, and when the children pull away from that first, best bed, it's a tearful thing.