Heather Ijames

Saturday, Apr 14 2012 12:00 PM

HEATHER IJAMES: Bunking up the kids to settle them down

By Heather Ijames

To bunk bed, or not to bunk bed? That's the question taking up prime real estate in my brain these days.

I have one picked out for my boys, and they've already started making grandiose plans about converting the top bunk into a fort, but I'm not sure I should fork out the money if they're going to tell me in a few years they're too old for it. This bunk bed is no joke, by the way. It has stairs, an actual stairwell. Don't tell my sons this, but I agree with them: The stairs make it a gazillion times cooler.

Right now, both boys cuddle up together on a queen bed in the guest room. Although the Star Wars posters and the vast spray of dirty, stinky socks would suggest that room is not, never has, or ever will be a guest room. I don't know how the co-sleeping started, but I can see it starting to wind down. First, I spotted the great wall of throw pillows, separating the bed in two. Then there was the garden variety of complaints of fitful sleeping, such as, "He hit me," "He stole my pillow," and "I think he made my insides bleed."

Before long, the little one decided he wanted his own bed again, if having his own bed meant taking over mine. He liked my pillow, too. And no, he didn't want to share. I caved into this sleeping arrangement -- with one-tenth of a pillow -- because no matter what a younger, brighter, and bushier-tailed mom says about how she won't let her child in her bed, I'm in such desperate need of sleep, I'd let a feral raccoon crawl in with me if it meant going back to dreamland.

Then, the real kicker came when the eldest decided it was too lonely in the big bed by himself, so he, too, wanted to jump in our bed and join the party. Yeah, no. This is when the bunk bed subject came up. I asked them, "Would you two stay in one room if we bought you bunk beds?"

Their eyes flashed with delight. I could almost see them sharing a brain and planning the 10-point double twist somersaults off the top.

When they saw this monstrosity of a bunk bed I had been considering, with the stairwell and even a wall of shoe cubicles -- which, when the boys leave the house, I could convert to a wine rack -- they said they'd leave me, my bed and my nighty-night time alone.

I wanted to call them little liars, but as a mother, surely, that would not have been one of my finer moments. Instead, I opted to believe them, even if they only meant it for 10 seconds. I still haven't bought the bunk bed, though, because I'm still mulling both the pricetag and the longevity of the bed's novelty.

Whether it's in a bunk bed, separate twins, or staying in the guest room's queen they currently like to drool on, I want to keep the boys together in the same room, regardless. I have several reasons for that, but above all else, I want the camaraderie. However, if you catch me on a day I'm being overtly blunt, I'd state it for what it really is: "I want to force them to get along."

Jamming them together in one room is a new method for me. I had originally opted to give them separate rooms. However, something occurred to me on a trip to the Kern County Museum, where I toured all those old, little houses. One of them, can't remember which one, had an information sign that said it used to belong to a family of six. Maybe more. It was hard to keep the numbers straight when I kept wondering where the old-timey mother was supposed to hide when the kids frothed at the mouth.

More importantly, I was perplexed how an entire family managed to live in such close quarters. Then, it dawned on me --and this is really only personal speculation -- that whoever these people were, I'd put money on them not being a bunch of self-indulged, whiny kids who expected to get their way at every turn. When you bunk up with people, listening to them snore, smelling their feet and getting the occasional jab to your insides, you start to see the necessity of getting over yourself.

I guess I should get those bunk beds sooner rather than later.

Heather Ijames is one of three community columnists whose work appears here every Saturday. These are the opinions of Ijames, not necessarily The Californian's. You can send email to her at heatherijames@hotmail.com Next week: Inga Barks.

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