My name is Kylie, and I'm the mother of two climbers.
Until my third child, I'd never had a climber. My first two were active but seemed to concentrate their activities on the floor ... or at least below the stratosphere.
Number three came bowling in as an early walker and early climber, and I learnt the hard way that you can't turn your back on his kind.
The kid scaled walls. He was the Spiderman of the house, who unfortunately didn’t land magically on his feet or in a safety net of webs. of course, coupled with his climbing obsession was a complete and utter lack of fear. He exercised minimal caution and was happy to mount anything – sturdy or not - if it meant he could access something fascinating that would be out of reach to any normal baby.
He was also very innovative. If there was no obvious way up, he would find something to aid his rise: a chair, a pillow, a sibling.
It’s all balloons and fairyfloss until there’s blood spouting out a nostril
On average, he seemed to have one major injury a week. It usually occurred right before daycare, just to ram home what a terribly negligent parent I must be to allow my child to obtain so many cuts and bruises.
As we passed through that terrible year of injuries that had me explaining away each knock, scratch, egg on the head and black eye, waiting for a call from DoCS, I gasped a sigh of thank god when we finally moved into safer territory. Little did I know this was a short-lived reprieve.
Number four has hit climbing age. She doesn’t just climb, but runs, up high. She’s light as a feather but lands like an elephant, usually in a face-front splat. She runs on the couch, laughing hysterically, and inevitably falls before I can catch her. To add insult to injury we have floorboards, which are rather unforgiving to children who launch themselves fearlessly, or who slip clumsily off raised surfaces. It’s all balloons and fairyfloss until there’s blood spouting out a nostril.
Climbers don’t learn lessons, either. Despite fat lips, shiners on their eyes, cut tongues, flattened noses and other falling-related disfigurements, both my climbers were mounting furniture within hours of significant injuries. Short of a padded suit and helmet, once you've made the house as safe as possible for them there’s not much you can do to prevent accidents. It's impossible to watch them solidly unless I chain them to my person, and removing anything that could be used as a ladder only has them exercise their true creative genius as they rush to concoct new climbing strategies.
My 18-month-old daughter is currently sporting a black eye (falling forward UP stairs while trying to climb off her bike), two bruises on her forehead (one fall from grace off the couch, one miscalculation when attempting to climb onto a dining chair), and one rather nasty looking bruise across the bridge of her nose (from a high chair climb that ended in the aforementioned face splat). I’m almost too embarrassed to take her out in public.
Perhaps it's keeping up with three older brothers, or being taught how to climb by the best climber in my house, but the injuries and stress are making me want to hire a padded cell ... and I haven’t decided if that will be for her or for me!
Do you have a climber? Have your say in the Essential Baby forum.