THE BLOG

Good Night, Sleep Tight

06/14/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

My son, the Juban Princeling, is at that age now where he's not only freakishly tall (95th percentile), but he is also learning how to be mischievous. Height plus mischievousness equals bad. Besides grabbing knives off countertops (because we leave knives lying around like all the baby experts told us to do) or doing pull-ups from our TV shelf, the Princeling likes to swing a leg up over the top of his crib.

Children this age -- 18 months -- are really just a blend of teenagers, cavepeople, and puppies. They're moody, whiny, stubborn, willful, strongly opinionated, hyper, distractible, stupidly curious, and curiously stupid. The more we freak out when the Princeling does something stupid and, more often than not, dangerous to himself and/or others, the more likely he is to keep doing it. The other day he climbed onto our armchair and leaned over the side. I grabbed his ankle to keep him from falling onto his head, and he thought it was a game, so he kept leaning over the side again and again until I finally pulled him off the chair. This, of course, pissed him off and he let me know it -- loudly.

Like a teenager, I'm pretty sure the Princeling hates us. In fact, I'm willing to bet money that the only thing keeping him from telling us that in so many words is the fact that "hate" is not currently on the list of words he knows, and also the longest sentence he can string together is, "Nice doggie!" But he shows it. He shows it in the way he stomps his feet when we drag him into his room to change his diaper. He shows it in the way he screams at us when we don't cave to his every demand. He shows it in the way he constantly runs up to other families in the hopes that one of them will take him home and he'll never have to see us again.

Which is why, when his pediatrician suggested at his 18-month Well Baby visit that we go ahead and convert his crib to a toddler bed, I wasn't so sure that was the best idea ever. At least not yet, and not without prison-grade bed restraints.

If we take off the big crib side and replace it with the smaller guard rail, that means that the Princeling will be able to climb into and out of his bed AT WILL. His own will. And say we put up a safety gate in the doorway of his room so he can't get out and wander around the apartment by himself at 3am. Then say he notices the strollers we keep in his room. Then say he uses the bigger stroller -- which he can totally reach and push -- as a battering ram to knock down the safety gate. Then he opens the utensil drawer in the kitchen -- which he can totally reach -- and pulls out one of the matching steak knives I only just bought a year ago. Then he comes into our room and STABS US TO DEATH IN OUR SLEEP. Laugh all you will, but nothing can convince me that this is not the Princeling's evil plot as soon as he can get out of his own bed. He hates us THAT much and he is THAT tricky.

And then there's the issue of everything else in his room that we can't really put elsewhere because we live in a three-room Brooklyn apartment. What if he goes into his diaper pail, which he's already obsessed with, pulls out a poopy diaper, and uses it to suffocate us to death in our sleep? What if he uses one of his personalized baby blankets to strangle us to death in our sleep? What if he uses his white noise machine to bash our brains in while we sleep? I remember the Menendez trial - I KNOW WHAT'S UP.

My husband, being less wordly and more naive than I am, is excited to convert the Princeling's crib to a toddler bed. Of course he is! The further away our son goes from babyhood and the closer he gets to actual personhood, the sooner my husband gets the camping and kayaking buddy he so desperately wants and which I will not do for him. I love my husband, but I hate the outdoors more. So every milestone we pass with the Princeling is another mile marker towards having the cool, fun son he's always wanted, as opposed to the devil's spawn that currently resides in our child's body and thinks that six-month-old raisins dug out from under the radiator are yummy snacks and calls every stuffed animal "Elmo."

I'm just not ready for this, though. We're woefully unprepared for a toddler who has control over his own bed situation. Aside from figuring out what to do with the fiberglass insulation that we have surrounding his toddler-level air conditioner and all the wires on the floor for his baby monitor transmitter (in the summer when our a/c's are on, we need a baby monitor), the way I see things we also need a movement detector in his room for when he makes his escape attempts, a heavy-duty lock on our own bedroom door, possibly a bodyguard, and definitely a panic room with a direct underground landline to the FBI. Of all the ways I've ever imagined my own death, one thing I will NOT allow is for it to become the subject of my son's testimony while some lady lawyer fake-maternally picks imaginary lint off his sweater. No way.