Perhaps this is a little late to be any help to The Violinist because she is more put together than me. But when I was eight months pregnant, I finally got around to picking a crib. A crib that I have had to lug around the house trying to find a place for. A crib that even in pieces is still incredibly heavy.
When I was pregnant and being dragged from store to store by other mothers, I knew exactly what crib I wanted. It had to be heavy. It had to be simple. It had to clean easily. I had already done my homework, which is to say, I already heard horror stories.
I needed a sturdy crib because my mother didn’t think she needed one that had to live through a war. She was wrong. As soon as my little brother was awake, he wanted out of the prison we all called a crib (or at least my parents did I was just old enough to walk when they brought him home so I probably didn’t call it anything but “mine”). When he was old enough to pull himself up to stand, he would rock the crib, banging it on the wall to force his mother to RUN to get him, if for no other reason than to keep the wall from deteriorating. My mom is still not sure how that crib survived to be used by another kid.
So if the crib wobbled or was dainty-looking, I moved on.
I needed a simple crib because I have simple tastes. I also heard my grandma complain loudly when ever the subject of babies and cribs were brought up. She was cursed with a beautiful crib with spindled rails. “Do you know how hard it is to clean a spindle crib rail?” No, and I don’t want to find out because apparently it took HOURS and HOURS. Then after all the hard work, that baby just messes up the crib again.
So no matter how beautiful the crib was, if it didn’t have clean lines, I moved on.
Then came the day I learned that a crib needed to be easy to clean. I walked into class one day to find my table partner sitting in his seat looking like he had PTS. I slid into my seat and asked what was wrong, assuming that he must have just got back from Nam and dealing with Charlie.
Him: I love being a stay-at-home dad, but today. (He sighed. At the beginning of the semester, he had shown me a picture of his girls, so cute that I felt my uterus skip a beat and I had to remind myself I had no money, no degree yet, no wisdom, and no wedding ring. He was finally going back to school at nights when his wife got home from work to watch the girls.) When the first one was born, she was so EASY. So sweet and cute. And I said to my wife, ‘let’s have a dozen more.’ Then the next one came, and she was a little more difficult, but she was just as sweet and cute as her older sister. I remember once coming in to get her from a nap, and she had opened her diaper and was rolling her poo into balls. That was weird, but I dealt with that. So I said to my wife, ‘Let’s have a couple more.’ Then this last one came, and I don’t want any more. She’s sweet and cute, but she’s much more challenging than her sisters. Today I heard her laughing and enjoying herself in her crib after her nap, and I went in to see what was amusing her so much. There was shit EVERYWHERE. IT was all over the crib. The walls. The sheet. Her clothes. Her hair. IT was ALL OVER HER FACE. Fae, it was all over her face. I freaked. I grabbed her and tossed her into a bath, clothes and all. I scrubbed her and scrubbed her. I emptied out the water several times. I even scrubbed her mouth with soap. I didn’t know. She could have eaten it. She could have eaten her own shit. It took me forever to clean. I don’t know if I want to go back. I mean, what if she does it again?
He looked at me for an answer. What the f did I know? I wasn’t even old enough to drink yet. I never had this problem with any of the kids I had babysat. I never heard of my mom, her friends, or my aunts complain about anything like that. I never heard my grandmas mention anything like it. But since he was pleading for some kind of answer, some wisdom, some rescue line, I wiped the look of sheer horror off my face and smiled.
Me: She’s just exploring. Just put her to bed with pants on so she can’t take off her diaper. She probably didn’t eat anything. I’m sure it smelled bad enough not to try to taste.
Him: (relaxing, giving me a smile) You’re probably right. What about that reading? Pretty intense, right?
At break, I ran to the nearest pay phone and called my mother to demand an answer. Yes, some babies do, most do not. Never leave a smart baby alone in his/her diaper. (S)he will learn to take it off.
When I fell in love with the crib that was sturdy, simple, and easy to clean, I was relived to have my father-in-law offer to purchase it for us because sturdy doesn’t come cheap. (Oh, and I decided against a convertible bed because I figured by the time it could convert I would have another little one.) Thank God that my parents came to visit and took one look of the box and decided that THEY would build it because obviously their hugely pregnant daughter was out of her mind to think she could build it alone. It took three people to assemble it. It took two people to dissemble it to get it out of the room. Now it is holding the wall up in the garage.
When we were using it, I knew the boys couldn’t bang it. I knew Evan and Sean could crawl all over it. I knew when I found Evan in the crib playing with the mobile with Sean that it wouldn’t fall. But damn, that thing is heavy, and it is another reason why I should wear shoes while I’m moving things and unpacking.