Climbing follows on from crawling, often preceding walking. It was not long after dragging himself to his feet by the sofa that Small hauled himself onto the sofa. From there it was a short crawl and scramble to the top of the sofa back from where there would have been a swift plunge to the floor. Fortunately our sofa backed up against the window but that meant that the windowsill beckoned. Now was the time to make sure windows were not left open.
Our Smalls spent a lot of time on the windowsill, both inside and out. You see, it didn’t take long for Small to master opening the window and we had no keys to lock it. Fortunately it was only a short drop to the front garden and we had cushioned it with gravel. [No Smalls were injured in the writing of this paragraph.] I think Small learnt the trick of standing on the outside windowsill from the doidens (see Doidens). He didn’t bark at everyone that walked past though.
Small could also often be found on the cabinet or scaling the indoor clothes airer. It soon became clear that we had better not accidentally leave the loft ladder down.
The thing Small most liked to climb was the stairs. Gates at the top and bottom became essential until Small was stable on his feet and could be trusted to scoot down the stairs on his bum.
Climbing proved to be an ongoing activity and Small soon graduated to walls and trees. This is traditionally when breakages are most likely to occur: when Small has mastered climbing (or thinks he has) but not learnt the fear of consequences.
When it comes to climbing, I found that the best place for Small was in a soft play area or the local park. Here I had three choices:
- Follow Small around and help him over every obstacle.
- Sit on a bench and watch, letting Small have free roam so he could hone his skills, meanwhile biting my fingernails to the quick.
- Look the other way and hope for the best.
Prior to our own Smalls I remember visiting my brother-in-law and his family. My nephew, a little over two at the time, was at the top of a climbing frame and was about to attempt to swing himself over the top so he could climb down the other side. I was aghast, thinking only of the consequences of falling and positioned myself underneath him, ready to catch. ‘Be careful,’ I said, ‘you might fall.’ He responded with, ‘But I might not.’ And threw his leg over and scrambled down the other side.
It was a good philosophy and one that all Smalls live by. It always springs to mind every time I need to make a frightening decision.
Not so much a parenting guide full of advice, more the reality of parenting kids and being a house husband and father, written by a stay at home dad to three children.
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