Monday, November 5, 2007

Miss Independent

Little Abbey has an independent streak in her a mile wide and thus obvious for me to see. She could just be lifted up on the couch with her favorite book for me to read but she always has to climb up herself. This is just one example but there are many more. So one day, I decided I would give her some of that independence that she is always looking for. I decided I would convert her crib into a daybed.

Her crib is just a cheap model given to me by my mother and not a family heirloom so I knew I could modify it some without destroying it so that we could possibly sell it later at a garage sell. This is important because even with the mattress in the lowest setting, it wasn't low enough for Little Abbey to get back into bed. She is remarkably brave at getting off tall things but unless she can get her knee over the edge, she can't get back in. So with my cordless screwdriver, some drill bits and some miscellaneous screws, I set off for her room one sunny Saturday afternoon.

I had to work around two more restrictions in where I could lower the mattress frame and thus the mattress. The mattress needed to be high enough that there wasn't a gap between the bottom of the rails and the mattress creating a choking hazard and I could drill in where the side rails butted the front rails because they blocked the hardware. But I was able to find a location where the mattress ended up about fourteen inches off the floor and soon had it installed.

The side railing originally could slide up and down but because of its height, wouldn't allow her to get in with it slid all the way down so I just removed it and the hardware it attached to. I ended up with a crib that had a low mattress and only three sides to it. Little Abbey immediately spent the next couple hours jumping in and out of bed with a look of sheer delight on her face. I knew I had done the right thing until later that night. About a couple of hours after Little Abbey went to bed, we heard a soft thump over the monitor and then a cry and we immediately knew she had fallen out of bed. We put her back in thinking she would realize her new boundaries but it happened again later. In fact, it happened a couple more times before we finally just blocked the opening with some cardboard boxes for the rest of the evening. Mind you, no children were hurt in this endeavor.

The next day, I hit upon a solution to this problem not willing to give up that happy smile of her new found independence. I put the sliding rail back on but slid it over about sixteen inches so that it overlapped the bed on one end and left a sixteen-inch gap on the other. I easily could screw the one end to the head of the bed but wasn't so sure what to do with the other end near the gap to make it solid and not a hazard. Finally I found that if I screwed a 1/2 PVC pipe U-clamp to the backside and threaded an adjustable pipe clamp through that and around the mattress support frame, I could lock it on tight. All I was left were the sharpish ends of the railing that might pose a hazard if she knocked them hard in the middle of the night. We looked around for some soft padding to put around it and quickly hit upon a solution… diapers.

Little Abbey excitedly tried out her knew bed and that night when she remained all night in her bed, we knew we had a winner. For the first week, she would get up and stand in the middle of her room crying until we said her name from the comfort of our bed across the hall and then she would come running. Eventually she learned that she could come over at anytime and has been happy ever since. Only recently she has learned that she can come over anytime she wants, meaning very early so we have started closing her door. Now she will quietly play with her things if she wakes up early until we open up the door. She loves it. We love it. She now has some more of the independence she craves. I'm doomed in another dozen years or so.

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