There are two things you need to know before reading on: First, Lexi functions at about a 1 1/2 year old level. While she’s strong willed and smart enough to outfox all of us, she isn’t one to express complex feelings. Second, Lexi has had the same bed for most of her life.
When you have a kid with special needs, certain modifications have to be made. Cupboards and refrigerators will need to be kept locked, lest they help themselves to all the granola bars, followed by all the leftover casserole, regardless of when you last cleaned the floor. Stairways need gates and doorknobs need advanced opening mechanisms. The risk of “adventure” is a 24 hour consideration, so sleeping arrangements have to be modified, too.
For Lexi, this has meant a giant, adult sized crib. It may sound diminutive or perhaps insulting to put a teenager in a crib, but it’s for her own safety. Fortunately, Lexi has always loved her bed/crib, seeing it as a place of solitude and safety. After a day of school and evening roaming around the house, she would regularly climb up and ask us to close the sidewall, keeping her free to snuggle a stuffed animal or watch youtube in the cocoon-like surrounding of her bed. Think of it as a happy little efficiency apartment in New York City.
Since B Ritt has been on the case, we’ve been looking for an alternative bed option for Lexi. While it was easy for her to hop up into her bed, getting out in the morning was always super-stressful for her. Too often, I would end up lifting her out (part of the reason I go to the gym). Most of her caregivers, including the petite B Ritt (and most other caregivers, for instance, Nana), are in no position to do lift Lexi. The other issue with her NYC Apartment Bed was the fact that most group homes don’t allow these kinds of beds. While she’s not moving out now, we anticipate that day will soon come (more on that later).
So… she (Brittany) went to work. We (she) finally figured out a way for Lexi to have a big girl bed while still protected from her drive to get out of bed in the middle of the night and and make a mess or, say, grab some granola bars and leave the house under cover of night. A few nights ago, Lexi graduated to a big girl bed:
While that’s exciting for Lexi (and us), something very strange happened in this transition. A few days ago, we posted Lexi’s old bed online. A family immediately came over and snagged it for their child who breaks out of every other bed situation. As they took it apart (a herculean effort) and brought pieces out to their truck, Lexi got melancholy. She wanted to go into her room and sit on the last piece to be moved, as if to take a moment to say goodbye. It never crossed my mind that she’d care that much. I mean, it’s not like Lexi has a strong sense of room layout or some kind of zen desire for certain pieces of furniture. Her style is localized chaos.
I have to admit, I believe I vastly underestimated her understanding, her emotional capacity, and ultimately, her humanity.
After the last piece was taken out, Lexi got sad. Like… very sad. It struck me: she’s had that bed since she moved out of her baby crib almost 15 years ago. It’s been set up in 6 different rooms in 3 different houses. New surroundings, new schools, people, life changing and changing again. Through it all, her bed has been her sanctuary. As she cried, I cried too. I know it probably sounds ridiculous, but I felt for my daughter. She spent 1/3 of her life in that thing, and suddenly it was gone.
Lexi’s snazzy new bed works perfectly and has done nothing but make things easier for her. That’s a win, and I’m glad we did it. I’m also glad that another family will have use of her old place for a while. It should serve them well.
Meanwhile, you’ll have to pardon an old dad for being proud of his daughter, slightly nostalgic, and aware of the depth of Lexi’s capacity. I have a new appreciation and sense of dignity for my growing baby girl.