“Grandma used to say it will take only three days, Fae,” my Mom said as I tried to hold it together as Tornado E cried for me from the nursery. I had just been in to rub his tummy, stick in his pacifier, and hand him his stuffed dinosaur. The minute I turned my back to walk out the door with phone to my ear, he was crying for me. He was six months old and in his own crib in his own room for his first night in the nursery, not in the master room in the bassinet.
When my Mom said “Grandma,” she didn’t mean my grandma; she meant hers. A woman I had never meant but, in the years since becoming a mother, have learned to love her as I hear more and more about the matriarch of the family. Grandma believed in teaching boys to housekeep, cook, and bake. Grandma believed girls should be outside rough and tumbling with the boys. Grandma scoffed at the Catholic church telling her to go forth and multiply. Grandma believed in spoiling grandchildren with M&M cookies and sending them to hide when it was time for them to go. And she passed down pearls of child raising wisdom. Like it only takes three days.
Or three times. Draw a line in the sand and hold it. The child will test it three times, and then he/she will accept the new line. Three times Tornado E and Tornado S tested the do-not-go-in-the-street rule. Three dinners Tornado E glared at me from his untouched dinner plate refusing to take the just one no-thank-you bite. Three nights Tornado E and Tornado S cried as they got used to the crib in their very own room.
As I prepared for the move, it dawned on me that Tornado A had never had a room of his own. He had always shared a room with me. The horror struck me fast and hard that in the middle of my thoughts I actually blurted out “Oh, Crap” for no reason any one listening would have guessed.
The first night in the new house, we arrived home late from one last run to move stuff. Tornado A had only an hour or so of a nap all day. He was cranky, tired, and ready for bed. But first curtains had to go up to block the early sun rise. As well as the crib that the movers failed to build. The house was in chaos. My mom and I built the crib with Tornado A crying at our feet as my dad drilled holes for the curtain rod, cursing at the shabby housing construction. The boys ran wild as their father tried to calm them down.
Finally I was able to rock Tornado A, for the first time since he was an infant. I read him a story, said the night prayer, and sang him his lullaby. I placed him in the crib with his pacifier, his mama shirt, and a blanket. I turned on his music box and the humidifier. Only someone had moved the humidifier when it had water in it, and the humidifier gurgled and spat out water. Crap. I turned on an nightlight and shut the door. Silence. I sighed. Then the crying. Crap.
“You’re not leaving, are you?” I asked my Mom. She had stayed on the phone with me throughout the crying for the first three nights of both Tornado E’s and Tornado S’s move to the nursery.
“We still need to put the latch on the baby gate at the top of the stairs. Why don’t you put down the bigger boys?” she answered.
So we did. Like when we were on the phone, my mom reminded me when fifteen minutes had passed so I could comfort Tornado A and place him back down to sleep. Between placing the boys back to bed and Tornado A back down, I had my hands full. My parents finished putting a latch on the permanent baby gate at the top of the stairs. We talked, and I suggested we move out of the hall way now that boys were sleeping.
“No, Fae. Listen. He’s still awake. He’s listening to you. He knows you’re still here. He needs that,” my Dad said.
So three nights passed. Each night the crying got shorter and shorter. Until the fourth night, Tornado A laid down and fell right to sleep.
All that’s left to do, now that I changed the curtains to black out curtains, is to finish painting his dresser and hang up some art work, and Tornado A will have a proper room of his own.