Somewhere around the time my daughter turned two, she figured out how to turn a doorknob.
Being in the 98th percentile height-wise made it easy for her nimble little fingers to reached the blessed thing. That she figured out how to turn it so early on was just a testament to her clever, miniature mind.
The interesting thing is: she didn’t use her newfound ability to Houdini her way out of the bedroom right away. Upon learning our daughter could enter and exit rooms at will, my wife Lydia and I thought our restful evenings were over. We figured she would suddenly be up all night, every night, wandering the house and enjoying her newfound freedom. But that didn’t happen.
About six months later, however, my daughter had a light bulb moment. She realized that not only could she open her door, she also knew where Mommy & Daddy slept.
Combining these two thoughts, my daughter came stumbling into the master bedroom one night at around 2am. Lydia sleeps closest to the door, so she was the one greeted by our groggy girl. My wife was able to settle the wee one back into her own room without trouble, but two year olds are nothing if not tenacious. Soon our toddler was waddling her way into our room once a week. Waters were being tested; big (relatively speaking) toes being dipped. Even thought she might not have been logically searching for boundaries, I do believe she was instinctively doing so.
My daughter was trying to realize something she already knew: under our roof, Daddy is the softie.
After several attempts and being discovered and rejected by Mommy, she tried a new approach: my daughter snuck into the room… crawled into bed on Daddy’s side, and plopped herself down safely across my chest.
Instead of picking her up and returning her to her own bed, I immediately pulled her close, and covered her with a blanket.
She popped a thumb in her mouth, and fell back asleep.
(I spent the next several hours being kicked and farted on. But I didn’t mind.)
That started, in biblical terms, the end of days.
What began as 5am or 2am once a week intrusions became 11pm and 10pm attempts nightly. Our daughter came into our room earlier and earlier, and more and more often.
Again, when Lydia was awake (or awoke first), back to the toddler room our daughter went. But when able to enter and make her way to me, I always allowed her to snuggle in and disrupt my sleep.
This created a slight… bone of contention between Lydia and me. She likes to read parenting books, and talks at length about conditioning and bad habits. Which I understand. I also don’t care.
Our daughter is three, now.
In my mind, she’ll be thirteen “tomorrow.”
Time is fleeting. I don’t know how long snuggling lasts; how long she’ll want to come cuddle with me. I know what when she’s a teenager, I’ll be the most embarrassing thing in her life and that she’ll want little to do with me.
These moments are precious, and I don’t want to waste them.
If my daughter wants snuggles and warmth in the middle of the night, who am I to deny them?
The Mrs. has stated, a stern look upon her face, that she isn’t looking forward to the day when our one-year-old son figures out how to meander into our room.
“If our daughter isn’t able to stay in her own room by then, our bed will be too crowded.”
It’s a day I’m looking forward to.