The bed-making story


From the archives: 2006

Oh. My. Gosh, would my dad harp on me about making my bed when I was a kid. I said the usual kid things – crazy, outlandish stuff like, “But it’s my bed” and “So can’t you just shut the door?” and “But it’s just gonna get messy again tonight when I sleep in it” – to no avail. Grownups never fell for such flawed reasoning.

Later, at college and on into young adulthood, you bet I didn’t make my bed! (Take that, Dad!) Still, I liked the feeling of having everything all in order before I slept, sheets all tucked in at my feet and blankets or comforter just so, and that required a made bed. So I’d make my bed just before climbing in at night. This was a drag sometimes, when I was tired and didn’t really want to delve into sheet-straightening just now, plus for a while I had a partner who’d get annoyed when I’d say, “Wait! Wait! You can’t go to bed yet! I have to make it first!”

So I started making my bed in the morning. Now I didn’t have to do it at night, and as a bonus, it looked nice all day! For a while I had mixed feelings about this, though. I’d mutter in my head, Yeah, yeah, Dad, OK, it’s best to make the bed in the morning, you were right, now shut up.

Later I started muttering stuff like: Think you’re so smart, Dad? Can you imagine if you’d just waited it out, never mentioning bed-making ever when I was young? I probably would have started making my bed in the morning long before this, with no prompting at all, and you could have come to my first apartment and seen my nicely made bed, and then you’d have seen how well I turned out and how I didn’t need all the nagging to get that way. Oh, but then you’d have been unable to pat yourself on the back for having trained me that way, so I guess you wouldn’t have like that so well after all.

Later still, I thought something more like, Well, regardless, your issues are your own, Dad, and I guess I can’t know. I like making my bed in the morning. Guess that’s all there is to it.

Eventually I guess I stopped talking to my dad in my head quite so much around bed-making time. And many years passed.

A year or two ago, when Sammy was one or two years old, I asked some folks, in all seriousness, something like: “So at what point do you stop the playing and finish the job? Sammy and I have this great morning bed-making routine where I start to make the bed and he plays in the sheets and we play peek-a-boo and bury-the-baby-in-the-blanket and stuff, but eventually, I want to just finish the job even though he wants to keep playing, and also, if I don’t show him that there’s a purpose to all this tossing-around of sheets, how’s he going to know we’re supposed to be accomplishing something here – namely, making the bed?” I was afraid of being too lax.

Most people said something to the effect that it was wonderful to infuse some fun into a chore, but still, a child has to learn that at some point the fun stops and the work starts; this teaches responsibility, or something. Plus there are schedules to consider, things to be done. Can’t just play all day.

Well, this was sort of what I’d been thinking myself – or maybe what I was actually seeking was somebody to talk me out of it by saying, “For heaven’s sake, he’s two! Lighten up!”, except no one did that – but somehow I found I didn’t like those answers, so I ignored them. We’ve worked out a bed-making routine whereby I start making the bed, and usually Sammy plays in it while I do so, and sometimes he helps pull up the comforter or something but usually he doesn’t, and usually I play with him for a while, too, and if he wants to keep playing on the bed after I’m ready to move on to the next thing and he’s under the sheets or something so I can’t finish the job right then, I just leave the bed half-made and proceed to the next thing I want to do, like maybe getting dressed. Eventually there will come a moment when he’s not in the bed anymore, and I can polish off the job, and nobody has to stop anybody from doing whatever is they want to do.

Sooooo (this ties in, really!). . . A few days ago I bought myself a new pair of jeans (woo-hoo!). I haven’t bothered to wear a belt in about 3 years, 9 months, but these jeans seemed to require one, so I dug deep into my closet and found one. (And it fit!) Sammy, who’s never seen me put on a belt, stopped what he was doing (which was jumping on the half-made bed) to stare: What the heck are you doing? I explained: “This is a belt. I’m wearing a belt today.” He considered; he looked to the place where his Daddy’s belt sits at night and in the morning before he puts it on again, and said, “Like Daddy.” I said, “Yeah, like Daddy. Daddy wears a belt, too.”

He gave a recap: “Mommy wears a belt. Daddy wears a belt. Sammy is a frog!” And he went back to the bed-jumping.

And I thought, Life doesn’t get any sweeter.

Publicfrog, 2006, ‘The bed-making story’,