Monday, April 05, 2010

Closeted (but not how you think)

A few weeks ago Ada decided to make a nest on her bedroom floor. Blankets, pillows, stuffed toys, all surrounding her in a cozy circle. Like many young children, Ada loves making nests, caves and other tight-space hideaways. (The mom of a friend mentioned once that kids are actually hardwired to like little spaces. Maybe they like spaces that make them feel bigger, or is it just the desire to carve out personal space, even temporarily?) The night the nest was made, Ada decided she wanted to sleep there too. Although a little concerned that sleeping on the floor might not be entirely comfortable for a kid used to a mattress, we okayed this experiment. One night turned into a few nights, and then a week. She seemed to be sleeping fine, so we let it go.

Not that there weren't down-sides. At some point the nest became a boat, and I was harshly reprimanded for mis-identifying it to visitors. More annoying, to get to Ada's dresser I had to step on (and face scolding) or around the now-boat. It finally occurred to me that if a small space was what she wanted, I could give Ada a new option that would remove the nest-boat from the middle of her room. I suggested to Ada that I clean out her 7 foot deep closet and help her make a nest space in there. It is almost as if I had suggested we buy a unicorn and stable it in the back yard. (I believe the words "you are the best mama ever" were involved.)

So I cleaned out Ada's closet while the babies slept and Ada played with (and in) the bassinet that had been shoved in the closet since the babies finished with it six months back. I made a big pile of clothes to donate, found homes for the few dresses and shirts that I want to save, and restacked and organized the items that needed to stay in the closet. Our friend Ellen loaned us a papasan cushion that had been sitting unused in her basement. Ada and I dragged it home and she happily set up her new bed space. All was well in the world.

About a week after Ada started sleeping in her closet-bed, the father of a friend told me that Ada had asked if she could sleep at the friend's house some night. He tried to determine if that might work, and he and Ada had talked about how much light she needed for sleeping. The dad said: "Ada said she uses a little light in the closet where she sleeps" and then he gave me a little smile of the type you give when you think there is a good explanation for a situation, but without it things sound kind of, well, odd. I explained why Ada is sleeping in the closet, and luckily the dad is the understanding parent of a child who has had her own sleep issues over the past year.

So yes, my daughter is sleeping in the closet, for however long that appeals to her. When friends come over they play in the closet, and every time I go in to read books with Ada I find toys and game pieces strewn about the space. It feels like a cheap way to make Ada happy. Plus, I remember enough about being a kid to kind of wish that I had my own little nest-ship-cubby space too.


  1. And you can always say (even if it's not true): "She is an avid fan of Harry Potter and expects to trigger a career in magic by sleeping in a closet the first years of her life." That should at least avoid any more questions =)

  2. Post pictures of the nest/closet, please!
    (Said the aunt who sleeps in a closet.)

  3. Sounds fun to me! Like a clubhouse kind of space.

  4. It sounds fun to me, too! --- When we moved into our new house, my then-6- and 4-year-old kids finally had rooms of their own. They liked to play in their own rooms but for several months my son (the oldest) slept on the floor of his sister's room.

  5. Both of our kids love tents. And a friend's son slelpt on the floor of his room for about 6 months. Don't know why but he just refused his bed.
    There is something about small spaces and also a space of your own making.

  6. I wonder if the hard-wiring has to do with protecting oneself from predators?

    Neither of ours have gone quite that far, though dudelet does have an active interest in making dens and spaceships. Little elf (2) sets out quite abstract spaces, however, like carefully laid out blankets, and defends them ferociously.

  7. And don't you sort of remember all those 'why not' wishes. The wishes you had that a parent might say no to, but why.

    This is a real why not. It is a fun and free and independence giving wish to fulfill. Good for you, n' her.

  8. that is awesome. I would have loved doing that. I'm jealous.