Monday, October 13, 2014

Back To The Trees?

 Who, in their right mind, would teach a baby to walk on a table like this???

        It is incredible how quickly babies get good at walking once that initial threshold is passed. Kiley is now walking everywhere, holding onto furniture most of the time (known as "cruising") but routinely making long journeys from one piece of furniture to another like Magellan island-hopping around the world. She has basically given up on crawling altogether except in emergencies (for instance when "Uncle Tom" starts chasing her, threatening to "get her belly", she still sometimes reverts to quadrupedal locomotion to make her escape) but other than that she's two-footing it all the way, toddling around like a "Weeble". Remember "Weebles"? They wobble but they don't fall down? Okay, that's not exactly accurate because she does a lot of falling down, but still, it's amazing that she stays on her feet at all considering her method of walking. She has that toddler strut where she doesn't swing her arms to maintain balance as she steps forward but rather her whole body leans from side to side to compensate for the change from one foot to the next. We call it toddling but teetering is a more accurate description.

So Kiley is just about in full walking mode which causes her old Nan no end of worry. The unskilled walker, both old and young, tends to fall down a lot and, though the old are more likely to sustain serious injury from such an occurrence, the young are not indestructible by any means. It's the head I'm worried about most of all. When Kiley does happen to fall (about a thousand times a day) it isn't a great distance to the ground so the only real danger is hitting her head on the way down. All of the furniture corners in her range of freedom are now appropriately covered with those foam bumpers designed for the purpose and the kitchen table is still well above her head so that bumping it upon standing up is not yet in the equation. That leaves the dreaded wall corners, which, thankfully, are not abundant in the area where she is permitted free range. Unfortunately, that is not the only thing I have to worry about.

It is an unfortunate result of coincidence or perhaps of evolution, that when a baby begins to walk with any skill at all it also begins to climb. What's up with that? Kiley is a consummate climber, to the constant strain on my poor heart. Regardless of which chair, sofa, table, or person she happens to be using for a walking support, she invariably tries to climb onto it. It doesn't matter how high it is, if she's holding onto it, she wants to be on top of it. This includes all of the Family Room furniture, the kitchen table, the kitchen counters, the kitchen chairs, and me. Thankfully, the kitchen furniture is beyond her climbing abilities, at least for the present. Even the seats of the kitchen chairs are at least chin-level to her but that doesn't stop her from trying. The kitchen table is so high it may as well be Mount Kilimanjaro but that only seems to increase her desire to conquer its peak. I don't think I have ever seen her grab onto the leg of the kitchen table without looking up and repeatedly raising her right leg in a vain attempt to figure out how to get up there. My own leg gets the same treatment. It's frustrating and a bit hazardous to go about your daily chores with a baby continuously trying to crawl up your leg, and it's usually when I have my hands full. I am constantly trying to shake her off like an overzealous dog. I have resigned myself to going about my normal business with her hanging from my jeans pocket lake an orangutan. And the stairs! The stairs are like the path to Shangri-La to her. Everything good and magical surely lies at the top of the stairs. She is drawn to the stairs like a teenager to trouble so, of course, I have to keep a baby gate in place at the bottom to keep her safe and myself sane. She stands there at the bottom shaking the bars of the baby gate like a miscreant at Riker's Island and longing for the wonders that, no doubt, dwell beyond her reach.

I'm sure this walking/climbing connection harkens back to the time when we lived in trees or at least climbed into them to escape from predators. But that was then and this is now. The ability to climb is no longer a prerequisite for survival; in fact the opposite is probably true. Falls are the leading cause of injury in the home. Granted, the majority of such injuries are to adults, especially older adults (our poor old bones are so brittle), but that fact doesn't negate the possibility of Kiley hurting herself that way. The two worst injuries to my own children when they were kids, not counting a horrible teenage car accident, were due to falls – one resulting in a stitched lip and the other a broken jaw (there's a scary story behind that one). Still, the fact remains that climbing is a part of Kiley's nature as it is for all babies, and there is nothing to do but cringe and bear it. It will be years before she is agile enough to avoid the most common pitfalls. Until then I'm watching her like a hawk. The strain is aging me beyond my years.



  1. You need to let it go, but it isn't easy. I still tell everyone of my grandkids "be careful" when they go up the stairs. I know they aren't listening, and none have fallen yet.

    1. I know you're right, but "letting go" is the hardest thing to do.