It is now long enough since Christmas Eve to reflect. My wife and I attempted to play Santa and it could have gone very wrong. It nearly went very wrong. That is not a role you take lightly. Yes, we attempted to put together a flatpack big-boy bed whilst children slept mere metres away. And this is the story of that night and the events leading up to it.
The Big-Boy Bed Origin Story
I was at work in October when my phone flashed up with a message from Jill. She had been in a furniture charity shop in Keighley with our youngest, Seth. While there, Seth had fallen in love with a mid sleeper bed which came with a slide to aid one’s descent. What two-year-old wouldn’t fall in love? What 40-year-old wouldn’t, for that matter?
He had outgrown his cot and was ready for a ‘big-boy bed’, so this seemed like a reasonable request for Santa. These things go for more than £300 in some places and we – I mean Father Christmas – had the chance to buy it for £50. No brainer.
We hatched a plan. I rang and reserved it, and nipped in after work in Bradford the next day. They had kindly taken it down for me and I shoved the 62,000 separate parts into my car, ready to hide at home. This is when alarm bells started to ring. I’ve put up and taken down multiple beds in my time, but this seemed different. More complicated. There were far more components than I was used to. I started to fear for our Christmas Eve. This was looking like a major task. Still, I took it home, threw it in the shed and forgot about it.
Problems With The Big-Boy Bed
A month or so later, we were discussing the bed with my parents. Jill mentioned that it wasn’t in perfect condition and that it would need a little TLC. However, Seth is around all day and that sort of work is tough to carry out in the dark outside after bed time. We don’t have the space inside to do the necessary work in the evenings. Anyway, they took the hint and agreed they would take it back to theirs at some point before Christmas to clean it up a little.
Once again, we forgot about it for a while.
In early December, my parents visited again and my dad decided to take a look. He also took this opportunity to measure the bed and the available space in Seth’s room. I’ll be honest, we just assumed it would fit.
It would not.
It was ten centimetres too long and we were hurtling directly towards ‘Christmas is ruined’ territory. Seth had begun to tell anyone who asked him about the festive period that he was getting a big-boy bed with a slide. He’d asked for it in his letter to Santa and that is pretty much a binding contract.
Whereas I have the power to destroy plaster just by looking at a screwdriver, my dad is exceptionally handy with DIY. My parents may have been deep into redecorating their home after building work in order to have it ready for Christmas, but Seth’s big-boy bed project added itself to the workload.
In amongst all the other tasks at hand, dad disappeared into his garage to saw, chop and drill away at the structure until it met the spatial requirements. He proudly sent a picture of his handiwork and, to his credit, didn’t swear at me when I pointed out that if the slide came out at a 45-degree angle, Seth would slam into the wall every time he got out of bed.
Another day’s work and the slide ran parallel to the bed. All that remained was for us to travel to Scunthorpe, take the bed apart, sneak it into the car, bring it back to Yorkshire and put it back together on Christmas Eve without the children noticing. Simple.
The Pick Up
The good thing was that we were due to visit just before Christmas and we needed to take both cars, so the plan was coming together. One vehicle would ferry the kids, the other would act as Santa’s sleigh. If Santa drove a Skoda. The bad thing was that we took the bed down after a few glasses of wine and I instantly forgot most of the detailed instructions. Still, I placed the parts in the car, covered them with blankets and forgot about them until Christmas Eve. I realise there is a theme developing.
The Christmas Eve Big-Boy Bed Build
Whilst Jill bathed the kids on the big night, I had brought the bed bits up the stairs, passing by the bathroom door on the way and feeling every inch the spy. It was genuinely thrilling and I managed to only slam the planks against the wall three times. Sign me up to be the next James Bond.
Operation Big-Boy Bed was on. The kids agreed to spend the night in the same bed while ‘Santa’ delivered the present to Seth’s room. Despite initial worries, this went pretty smoothly at bedtime. Elsa was determined to get to sleep as early as possible, not wanting to risk seeing Santa. We had laid the groundwork that he might leave if spotted by a child and we hoped that would stop them investigating further if they heard noises.
After giving them half an hour to settle, we were ready to build the bed. Things did not get off to a good start. I managed to get a small nut (as in ‘and bolt’, obviously) stuck in a hole in one of the planks. It took ages to prise it out as Jill and I tried to silently mouth instructions and suggestions to each other. I genuinely thought the plan had failed within minutes of beginning and wondered how the hell we could explain this away. Seth was not hoping to wake up and find a few discarded bits of timber on his floor.
Jill managed to free it eventually and the next stage of building the frame went relatively smoothly. You don’t realise how many times you drop an Allen key during DIY until you try to do it silently. Each ‘clang’ reverberated around the house and, at one point, we could see on the monitor that both children had eyes open. Thankfully, Elsa demanded Seth went back to sleep and he complied. Phew. Back to work.
More Problems Arise
We had the skeleton of the bed sorted when we realised there was an issue. Initially, we thought his chest of drawers would fit under the bed, but it was too tall. However, Jill realised we could take the legs off and, with that, it was just short enough. Deep joy.
That excitement was short-lived, though. He also had a large unit with a bookcase on top and cupboards below that couldn’t fit anywhere else in the room, and which was now blocking access to the ladder up to the bed. I was all for leaving it and working around it in the morning before dealing with it later. Jill pointed out that it would be more magical if we moved the six-and-a-half foot structure into our room and he could use the bed as inteded straight away. She was right. Of course she was. The unit was too big to simply push through the door. Of course it was.
Thankfully I was able to separate the two parts and we struggled with both of them, lifting them fully laden with contents that we simply had no room to store elsewhere into our room. What better Christmas gift could there be than his and hers hernias? Jill admitted later that she thought she was going to drop the cupboard and, with that, alert the slumbering kids to the Father Christmas deceit. As it was, the monitor showed nothing more than light snoring.
With that, we chucked on his new Paw Patrol bedding, meticulously hiding away the various tools we had used and headed downstairs for a well deserved Aldi own-brand Baileys rip-off. About a pint each. While many couples snuggled on the sofa, watching some delightful Christmassy film, we had spent two-and-a-half hours sweating, stressing and silently cursing the big-boy bed. But we completed our task and now it was very much time for bed.
Big-Boy Bed Reaction
For the purposes of this blog, it might have been funny if Seth had hated it. However, for the sake of our sanity, we are beyond delighted that he LOVED it. Properly adored it. I’m also glad that we went the extra mile and moved out the old furniture. Watching him and Elsa see the big-boy bed for the first time in all its glory on Christmas Day was as magical as hoped.
Without wanting to be cheesy, it made it worth all the hard work we, and my parents, put in. You don’t get that many Christmases where they both understand and believe in Santa. To have got one so right is a real joy.
However, as much as I’d love for him to always believe, I also want him to know the real story behind the slide bed. I have mentioned before that there are many more blogs about Elsa than there are Seth. That is down to many circumstances. This is one that is definitely about and for him, though. So, future Seth, this is how you got your big-boy bed and why there is very little storage space in your room. Oh, and if /when you have your own kids, buy them something less labour-intensive for Christmas. This is my newly acquired wisdom to pass on.
Do you have any Santa/Christmas stories of daring/stupidity? Share them in the Comments!