Saturday, July 1, 2017

Little Climber


Since before Birdy could even walk, she has been a climber. Stairs, chairs, tables, bookcases - all challenges to be surmounted in her eyes.

I've lost count of the number of times some wide-eyed person has alerted me in panicked tones to my daughter's presence atop a precarious summit. She would be laughing, fearless, while the adults around her fluttered and worried and attempted to coax her down without spooking her.

It's not that she has no sense of danger. She doesn't attempt to launch herself off high walls but waits for assistance. She approaches stairs with caution (although she did once tumble down half a flight), and shouts for help when she's stuck on the climbing wall at the park. I'm not nervous in that respect. Having said all of that, she's had her share of falls, and always has a crop of bruises on her shins.

At first I tried to stop her climbing, saying "No!" in very firm tones. "We don't climb." It was all water off a duck's back. We do, apparently, climb, and no amount of saying the opposite was going to make any difference.

So then I started trying to make the entire house a climb-free zone. It was impossible. There was simply no way to arrange the furniture such that it did not form an enormous obstacle course, and I've mainly given up on it. The only routines I've kept from that effort are to keep the safety gate to the kitchen closed (she uses the drawer handles to climb up onto the kitchen counter where the knives are), and to keep the dining chairs stored in another room (she uses them to climb onto the table, and from there to the other side of the kitchen counter where the knives are!).

In the end I decided that, since I could not stop her climbing, my best option was to teach her to get down again safely. It didn't take much education - she's a natural, and the extra padding of her nappy helps!

These days, she can often be found sitting on the very top of her Ikea kitchen, dangling her legs over the side while 'reading' her books, or balancing on top of her transporter truck ride-on trying to reach things she shouldn't reach, or standing on top of the slide shouting to the entire neighbourhood (that one still gives me the collywobbles to be honest).

I can't change Birdy. She's a climber. All I can do is help her to be a safer, more controlled climber and then be there if she falls. This is basically parenting as I see it.


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