Here's something new parenting has taught me:
Any plan that terminates with you in the middle of your child's bedroom at 3 o'clock in the morning, an Ikea instruction manual in hand, cannot be considered a success.
Le Petit's crying over the baby monitor woke us up on Monday at 4 am. We waited a moment before my husband peeked in when, trying as he might to peer into the dark bedroom, he was greeted by a heart-stopping thump. Le Petit had launched himself over the crib rail. It was not his first attempt at escape, but it was certainly his most dramatic. Our minds were made up: the transfer to the big boy bed would take place that evening.
I dreaded it all day. I talked about it incessantly to my colleagues, who all, whether parents or not, could care less. (Did I mention I need more mommy friends? I do.) I rehashed the plan for an hour with my mother-in-law. By the time bedtime rolled around I was a nervous wreck. But le Petit, when he discovered that the side was removed from the crib, jumped all over it and looked delighted. Perhaps the situation was more promising than I thought.
We did our bedtime ritual as usual, and I put le Petit down, anxious but hopeful. He immediately rolled over and bumped his head on the corner of the new side. He melted into tears. I picked him up and snuggled him next to me on the mattress on the floor, but he was no more comfortable. For the next three hours (3!) he tossed, turned, flung himself from bed to floor; alternately climbed on my back, feet, and head; squeezed himself into a tiny corner of bare wood floor next to the window; and stumbled around in the dark, confused. Meanwhile, I sang, patted, snuggled, begged, explained, and nothing helped. It seemed that the whole concept of sleeping anywhere other than his four-walled crib was completely foreign to him. Since he's never coslept with us except for a few desperate weeks when he was a newborn, a big person bed just didn't compute.
At eleven-thirty, we both dazedly wandered out into the living room where my husband had been anxiously waiting since half past eight. Valiantly mastering his brimming frustration, he offered to take over, and I was more than happy to accept.
The next two and half hours were grim. With me, le Petit was searching for sleep but otherwise calm; with his father, he screamed. I kept reminding myself that he was with a loving and calm adult (for my husband remained admirably calm throughout) but I hid under the covers in my own bed, curled up in a ball listening to desperate calls for maman. My husband finally helped le Petit calm down by leading him around the apartment for the third time in a row, showing him that everyone in the big, wide world was asleep, and bringing him back to his favorite chair for a story. They cuddled, he accepted to be placed in his bed as usual, contentedly rolled over to get comfortable and...
BOOM. He fell out of bed onto the mattress on the floor. I could hear the poor, exhausted child startle himself awake with a scream. He was tired enough to allow a couple more attempts, but it soon became clear he just wasn't ready for the big boy bed.
And that's how we found ourselves -- or rather my husband found himself, as I read le Petit his umpteenth bedtime story while in tears -- reassembling an Ikea crib at 3 o'clock in the morning.
He's been back in the crib ever since. We covered the floor with blankets, pillows as well as a mattress, and we're reasonably sure le Petit is good enough at climbing out now that he won't hurt himself. We've also discovered that if we run into his room at the first squeak, he doesn't try to climb. The plan now is to wait until the apartment is sufficiently reassembled to find room to put a big boy bed in the room along with the crib, and then to aim for a gradual transition.
The last two nights have been peaceful. The work in the kitchen in advancing. Tomorrow is a holiday. I still can't see the floor in the living room for the plastic sheeting and appliances, but I feel like I can finally breathe again.