"Dave," I yell to him with an accusatory tone in my voice, "come look at this." Dave is a reformed childhood climber, and I blame him for all of the following. I found Ella just as she started to scale her "ladder."
"Ella, what are you doing?"
"I needed a dress to wear."
I have climbers. These children do not sit still. They all started walking in either their ninth or tenth month. From that moment, the sky was the limit. Andi climbs furniture, and has been since she was 11 months old. Once on it, she jumps up and down. She did a belly flop off the couch this weekend, hopped back up, and with the exception of her nose turning red from it's collision with the floor, she was unphased. She went on with her business, which now includes kicking and throwing things.
Within a month of fastening child-proof locks on all the cupboards, my then, one-year-old twins mastered a team approach for getting the cupboard doors open. And I couldn't just move stuff up higher, they'd put chairs up to the counters and climb up. I'd go upstairs to go to the bathroom and come back downstairs to find cupboard doors opened, cans and boxes spilling from their shelves, and wonder if an earthquake had happened. Then I'd see my one-year-old twins eating chips, quite comfortable using the counters for their picnic. Their team approach worked for breaking the baby gates down, too.
Andi can't rely on the team approach, so she scales the stove like a mountain-climber. Last week, when I couldn't find her on the main level, I hopped over the baby-gate and headed upstairs. "Surely she didn't scale the babygate," I thought. I found her in the upstairs bathroom. She had the doors closed, emptying the drawers. It was a like a tampon factory exploded in there.
All of this climbing didn't bother me too much, until I learned that not all children behave as if they are monkeys. A friend told me he didn't even have to use cupboard locks. Really? Mom tells me about co-workers who have babies "but they aren't climbers like yours," she says with a tone that says something is wrong with my children.
None of this is my fault. I preferred to spend my time as a toddler wedged between the furniture and the wall, sitting in cupboards, or even sitting in dishwashers. This behavior is one that has stuck with me to this day. On certain days, you can find me wedged into the back corner of my room, between the bed and the wall. This is a place my twins don't know exists. And there, I have a picnic of almonds and M&M's and listen to my children calling, "Mom! Mom? MO-OM?" Their voices get louder as they come into my room, and my heart quickens wondering if this is the time they will discover the last hiding spot I have in the house.
I'm not sure how all of their climbing will translate into their lives as adults...perhaps it will be something as simple, yet as important as self-reliance. Or maybe it means they are going to be prone to jumping out of planes or walking tightropes. One thing I know, is that if it doesn't kill them, it's going to kill me.