The Stairs Are Scary When You Baby Has No Sense of Depth
I had a “how to protect your kids” epiphany this week as I was watching my one-year-old slide down our ultra steep stairs on his butt. In order to explain my realization, however, I need to give some background information.
Our stairs have a door at the top of them. When our little man became mobile we endeavored to keep the door closed at all times. But sometimes, despite our best efforts, it was open. More than once I chased him over only to realize that he was inches or feet away from a fall. A fall he probably would have instigated without knowing any better.
It was at this point, I realized, that even if I tried, I couldn’t always keep him safe. I was not the only person living in the house, my son would eventually be able to reach the doorknob, and sometimes the door didn’t latch … I knew the day was going to come when he would be faced with those stairs and I wouldn’t be there.
So, I Decided That The Best Way To Protect Him Was To Prepare Him.
We started at the bottom of the stairs. I piled pillows on the carpet near the last stair and we practiced climbing them. I helped him at first, showed him where to put his hands and how to move his legs one at a time. Then I followed him and caught him if he faltered. Then I watched from a distance ready to help if he needed it. Once he had mastered going up, we practiced going down.
L and I would stand at the top of the stairs and hold hands. He would run forward and try to leap but my hand kept him at the top. Time after time we practiced sitting down, scooting forward, and sliding down carefully one stair at a time.
This prep work wasn’t fast or easy. It took months to master and we are just barely at the point where he can go up or down without me. But long before he mastered it, he started being careful.
At one point he would carry a pillow to the bottom of the stairs before he tried going up. Later when he happened upon the open door at the top, he would sit down and yell for me. When I got there he would hold my hand and start scooting down.
Because I had taken the time to practice with him and prepare him for something, he had an idea of what to do when he was faced with the situation and I wasn’t there. Because he was prepared, he was safe.
Now, I am not saying that he won’t fall or hurt himself on the stairs at some point. Accidents happen. In fact, I tripped down several stairs not terribly long ago. I am just saying that he is far safer having learned how to deal with the stairs then he would have been if I had continued to try to keep the door shut and failed.
Take A Look at Wonder Woman (Spoilers)
Wonder Woman grows up in a happy, peaceful environment. However, her express purpose is to help those less fortunate, to fight warmongers, and help bring peace to others.
Her mother, wanting her to be safe and happy, attempts to shield her from this reality. She doesn’t want her to learn to fight or to understand her destiny. Her aunt, on the other hand, knows that the best way to protect her is to prepare her for whatever may happen. So, she trains her.
It is because of her training and extensive preparation that she is able to survive and fulfill her destiny.
War is not a safe place to be but it would have been even more dangerous for her if she had remained untrained and “blissfully” ignorant like her mother wanted.
Knowledge = Preparation = Protection = Power (Maybe not over your circumstances but over your actions.)
Back to Our Own Children
If preparation is the ultimate long term protection that we can give our kids, then teaching it should be at the top of our priority lists. Doors and baby gates can only go so far…
I took a minute to think about what worries me most during this phase of my child’s life (toddlerish years) and it turns out I am worried about a whole lot.
- Getting Lost
- Getting Hit by a Car
- Sexual Predators
- Pornography Exposure
- Making Friends
- Animal Encounters
- And the list could go on and on…
Having had my epiphany, I realize that the best thing I can do is prepare my son (as much as possible for whatever age he happens to be at) for these frightening possibilities and/or eventualities.
He needs to know what to do when strangers approach him, or when he gets his hands on the Windex. He needs to spend time with other kids and learn how to share and be kind. He needs to understand his own body and what is and is not okay. He has to learn that the road is full of cars and isn’t safe (and then how to cross it safely at some point in the future).
If I want to protect him even when I am not present, I need to prepare him to the point where he knows what to do when/if he must face it alone.
Back to the Stairs
Catching your child every time they fall is impractical and impossible. Teach them how to prevent falling in the first place. Teach them how to catch themselves if they do fall. Then teach them what to do if they totally biff it anyway. Knowledge is power.
The Final Part of My Epiphany: God
In the last several months I have heard of several unexpected and heartbreaking deaths. I was not particularly close to any of the people who passed on, but I do know several of the people who they left behind.
I don’t really blog about it much, but I am a very religious person, so I shouldn’t have been caught off guard when someone I knew specifically asked me why God was taking away someone she loved so much.
But I was caught off guard. That is a big, heavy, hard question. I spouted off several things, all of which I believe with all of my heart but none of which were very satisfying answers to this individual. So I started doing research.
Why would a father in heaven let us face such hard things? Why wouldn’t he save everyone from early, untimely deaths? Then it hit me. He is our parent.
Like human parents, he cannot protect his children from everything (for our own good not because he can’t). We must be free to make mistakes in order to learn and grow. We need the opportunity to face our own staircases (which we may or may not make it up and down without incident). But, he doesn’t send us to the stairs blindly. He has prepared us for hard things and continues to offer aid if we will listen and accept it. (See this lesson for more information.)
So, the best way to protect our own kids, whether we are there or not, is to empower them with preparation and knowledge. This is exactly what Wonder Woman needed to face everything she was called upon to deal with and it is the same thing that our own Heavenly Father has done for us (even if we don’t always remember it.).
You May Enjoy: