Wherein Grandma rethinks the family bed

Our kids climb into bed with Jim and me each morning. Their sole goal? To get us to rise and shine, get up and give them breakfast.

Now, that may seem strange considering our three daughters are adults and don't live in our house. But it's not our human kids I'm talking about, it's our cat kids.

alarm cat

Early each morning, Abby and Isabel hop onto the foot of the bed and meow their way all the way up to our heads, demanding we notice them, love them, and, most importantly, get out of the freakin' bed and feed them. Abby in particular is the alarm kitty. If I ignore her pleas, she heads on over to my iPhone cord on the night stand and starts chewing on it, for she knows darn well that will have me up and at her in a split second.

Yesterday morning when "the girls" got into bed with us, I mentioned to Jim how crazy it would be if we let our dogs into the bed with us, too. Mickey and Lyla have their own bedroom, though, with a baby gate put up each night so they can't get out — which means they can't climb into our bed in the morning, like the cats do.

"Just think if they did," I said to Jim. "We'd have all our kids in bed with us."

Which led me to immediately mention that our real kids — our human kids, our daughters — never climbed into bed with us in the mornings. Never.

Why is that? I wondered out loud. It's not like the girls weren't allowed in our bedroom, weren't welcome to join us if they felt the need.

I remember one night in particular when Andrea definitely felt the need. It was during the summer between her fifth- and sixth-grade years at school, a scary transitional time that caused her to have nightmares. After several failed attempts to calm her fears in her own bed one night, she took me up on the offer to sleep in a makeshift bed on the floor beside ours.

That didn't work. Andie still couldn't sleep, still was afraid.

So I told her we'd turn on the television in our bedroom to the Cartoon Network — at a very low volume — to take her mind off scary things.

Regardless of volume level, though, the George of the Jungle Marathon running on the network that night was the stuff of nightmares, at least for Jim and me. ♪George, George, George of the Jungle, watch out for that tree!♪ kept us awake — and unhappy — for hours.

After a several episodes, we'd had enough. Andie apparently had, too, for she didn't balk too much when I led her back to her own bed. Where she did finally fall asleep.

Jim and I, though, couldn't fall asleep for we couldn't get ♪George, George, George of the Jungle♪ out of our heads, out of our dreams.

Never again, we told ourselves... and our girls. To this day, mentions of George of the Jungle elicit groans and grins from Jim, Andrea and myself as we recall the nightmarish marathon.

Back in those childrearing years, I was thankful the girls rarely asked to sleep in our bed and that they never woke us in the mornings by crawling under the covers with us. But now it saddens me.

It saddens me because as a grandma, I realize what Jim and I missed. The mornings when I'm visiting my grandsons and they crawl into bed with me — which is every morning when I'm at their house... and usually before the sun even considers creeping up over the horizon — are some of the sweetest moments shared with my beloved boys.

Which is one of the more important things Jim and I failed to learn when our girls were little.

There's no going back, though, no way to remedy that error we made with our children. But we can, as grandparents, make the most of the moments when our grandchildren crawl into bed with us.

I will do exactly that with open arms next week, when I'll be sleeping one room away from Bubby and Mac.


Next week I'll have four mornings to relish the slow creaking open of Gramma's bedroom door as the boys together peek in at me, then the pitter-patter of little feet scampering over to my bed while I pretend I'm asleep. Then I'll lift the covers, make room for Bubby on one side, Mac on the other. We'll snuggle for just a bit, and once they've done all the snuggling their wiggly little boy bodies can handle, we'll discuss our dreams from the night, recite our plans for the day.

I didn't get it with my girls, but I now realize with my boys that such times truly are the best part of waking up when there are children in the house.

As a parent, the family bed was never my thing, for I didn't want to be continually awakened by little kids.

As a grandparent, I can't imagine any better wake-up call.

Today's question:

Did your kids climb into bed with you in the mornings? Do your grandkids?