Tuesday, May 10, 2011

We Should Have Named Him Tenzing

Ryan is reaching the age that I refer to as the “mountain goat” stage. He will climb on anything he can reach. I’ve caught him with his foot over the top of both the crib rail and the playpen fence, about to sling himself over. I had always assumed that he jettisoned his comforter, blanket, and stuffed animals from his crib every morning because he was bored; now I realize he was just creating a landing strip for his Great Escape.

Sofas and chairs are no longer objects to sit on, but objects to be scaled. He will pull a kitchen chair across the room so he can stand on it and reach things on the counter. I am convinced that it’s only a matter of time before I leave the room for 30 seconds and come back to find him perched on top of the refrigerator. No longer does he merely climb on the seat of the sofa, but he pulls himself to the top and tightrope walks across the back. I even caught him standing up in one of the office chairs and pulling himself up and over the back.

He’s discovering new purposes for all his toys: the ramp he used to roll balls down is now a stool that gets him high enough to dive over the side of the playpen. The wooden mailbox, the toy trains, even the small upholstered chair are all merely stepping-stools to freedom these days. The ride-on zebra and the wheeled cooler he used to push around the room are now mountains to be climbed.

And objects need not be inanimate to be climbed. He is just as happy to climb onto the back of the couch by standing in my lap and climbing up over my head and shoulders as he is to climb directly onto the back. (My hair makes an excellent hand-grip.) He’ll even grab me and shove me where he wants me to be so he can scramble up my body like a kitten and reach a light switch or a cupboard or whatever intrigues him that’s otherwise out of his reach. If I am ever foolish enough to sit on the floor of his playpen to play he immediately steps on whatever body part is handy and clambers up and over me to get over the wall.

It’s a good thing that the weather is getting nice enough that we can visit playgrounds often. Hopefully he’ll burn off much of his need to climb by scrambling up ladders and stairs and by his constant attempts to walk up the slide from the bottom. He happily pulls himself up onto play horses and cars that are intended for older, taller children. He gladly accepts the challenge presented by any climbing area, or in fact any structure that can be climbed, whether intended as a climbing area or not.

Eventually, he’ll either discover some other mode of exploration and leaving daredevil climbing behind for a while, or at least he’ll grow tall enough that he won’t need to climb as much to get into the trouble he’s seeking. But until then, my reflexes are becoming impressively sharp. I guess that’s one of those unexpected bonuses of motherhood.

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