Monday, February 01, 2010

Mountaineering

It's one of those moments that drains the blood out of the faces of most parents. The moment when the full realization of what could have happened hits you full in the face like a right hook from David Haye.

The rule of the stairgate is golden in our house. It is always used, it is always kept locked.

Tom at 2 years & 3 months is capable of navigating the stairs but only with assistance. This assistance being Karen or I (or sometimes both) sweeping up behind him like vast safety nets ready to catch him should he ever stumble on his climb upwards. Only rarely has he shown any inclination to climb down on his own much preferring the ease and comfort of being carried. Well, who wouldn't?

Yesterday, during the delivery of our weekly shopping the stairgate was accidently left open...

Tom loves to help us put the shopping away. This eagerness to help sometimes results in teeth marks in the butter and fruit being thrown around the kitchen like footballs. But we can live with it. Frequently Tom amazes us with his understanding and knowledge. Yesterday he came across a tube of toothpaste. Instantly he knew this was not a kitchen item but an upstairs item. Thinking the stairgate nicely secured we told him to put in "on the stairs" - something he can do quite easily by reaching through the bars of the gate.

He disappeared. We thought nothing of it. Not until Karen took some other upstairs items to the stairs herself and found Tom halfway down / halfway up them. He was fine. He was chattering to himself in the quiet way kids do when they're concentrating and urging themselves on to complete a sterling endeavour. Karen and I had a mini freak-out and made sure he reached the bottom safely.

We didn't have to tell each other what a close call that was. I myself fractured my leg at Tom's age by falling down two stairs and had 6 weeks in hospital as a consequence.

The toothpaste was nowhere to be found however.

We searched the hall and the shoe-rack. There was no sign. Surely he hadn't made it all the way upstairs?

I ventured up. There in our bedroom, on the bedside table was the tube of toothpaste. He'd got all the way up to the top and half way down again under his own steam.

I feel both amazed, proud and damned relieved. And have ordered him some crampons for his next birthday - it looks like a hillwalking holiday in Wales might be on for this year.

That is, if my nerves can last that long.


20 comments:

The Moiderer said...

We had the same thing when our little one was about 1 year old. Your heart comes out of your mouth, you break out in a cold sweat and the world of "What if's" go through your mind. Scary!

Steve said...

The Moiderer: I must admit I definitely experienced a "legs turning to jelly" moment.

missbehaving said...

OMG, but awesome job on the little one, he's made a quantuum leap in courage and ability.
Best not to think of what might have been and how clever he knew to take the toothpaste upstairs.
My youngest son once fell all the way down the stairs, top to bottom, wooden stairs, no carpet, not a mark on him, bounced all the way, his brother tripped over thin air in the middle of an empty room and had four stitches!!!

Steve said...

MissBehaving: funnily enough my mum said the same thing of me - I'd regularly fall down all of the stairs and have not a scratch on me, then one day fell down the bottom two and ended up in hospital! I guess if it's gonna happen it's gonna happen.

French Fancy said...

And posts like this just make me so glad I am not a parent - I don't think I could cope with the worry and the strain. I would have them on reins until they were 15.

Nota Bene said...

...I assume he was totally oblivious to it all. What a heart-stopping moment, but as it turned out, a great talking point in the future...

Steve said...

FF: by the way he's going he might have me on reins by the time he's 15!

Nota Bene: nope, he didn't twig anything was wrong at all. I actually think when heard us say "put it on the stairs" he interpreted it as "take it upstairs", saw the gate was open and made what is after all the logical connection.

KAZ said...

Good for Tom - Next job: take out the rubbish and wheel out the bin.

Steve said...

Kaz: I'm not joking, he is already quite particular about putting stray chocolate wrappers in the bin and putting his mug on a drink's mat. He'll be wearing white gloves next and running his fingers distastefully across my book shelves...

ArtSparker said...

He'll be 18 before you know it. Then you're going to miss these days...

Steve said...

ArtSparker: when he's 18 he may have to carry me upstairs...

Completely Alienne said...

If he shows signs of being houseproud then encourage him, and train him up. Kids who are naturally tidy are as rare as hen's teeth and should be nurtured.

The Sagittarian said...

haha, our Scowly Teen used to whizz up and down our stairs happily. She would often put her self to bed, altho' this meant finding her asleep on the floor outside her bedroom door which had blown shut in a breeze! The best way for her to get downstairs she found was to lye down and slide backwards on her tummy! Must have been really uncomfortable but she always arrived down safely. Our youngest however was more likely to be carried down.

Steve said...

Completely Alienne: he takes after me for being tidy and although I certainly don't want to discourage it I also don't want him to become OCD about it either... a bit of dirt is good!

Amanda: we've tried teaching him to come down on his bum but he isn't keen (especially when his nappy is full - understandable, really). He much prefers coming down the "proper grown-up way" - standing up, holding on to the bannister. This tends to put him at full stretch though so I'm actually quite glad he prefers to be carried down - I'm sure when he's grown a little more it'll all become easier for him.

Gina said...

Aww little Tom! I'm going all broody again.

I never had stairgates - I just taught them to go up and down stairs in crawl mode as soon as they started to move. And they all did.

But I did have a scary moment once. Harry and Jack had a habit of stair-sledging on a body board. We had a 3-storey house and they'd sledge down each flight of stairs on the board. One day they got Joe (who was about 14 months) and stuck him on the sledge, his little hands clutching on to the sides, beaming away and pushed him down. He loved it of course. First I knew was when Harry shrieked at me, "mum, get your camera, you've got to see this". Yikes! The bodyboard was conviscated for a while as I couldn't stand the stress.

Steve said...

Gina: a 14 month old on a bodyboard down 3 flights of stairs?!? OhmyGod! I'm hyperventilating just thinking about it!

Löst Jimmy said...

You've got an adventurer on your hands!

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: I've already signed him up for a Ray Mears adventure holiday.

Tenon_Saw said...

Any right-thinking parent would have had a camera to hand to capture the moment, storing it away to embarrass him in front of numerous future girlfriends...

Steve said...

Tenon_Saw: you're right... I have been horrendously neglectful!