A few weeks ago I wrote about Hannah’s new-found love of all things terrifying. You’ll be pleased to know that her desire to explore all the dangerous things has not subsided. If anything, it has intensified!
This makes for interesting times in my house at the moment. Where just a few short weeks ago I was becoming complacent in my attitude towards observing Hannah’s play, I am now back to a state of close hovering. I know that makes me sound like a bit of a helicopter parent, but trust me, Hannah needs to be watched carefully at this point in time.
Testing the Water
Take, for example, yesterday’s antics. The three of us were upstairs. Emma and I were completing fairly mundane, adult tasks, while Hannah played with her toys. All of a sudden, Hannah stood up and headed for the stairs at a rate of knots. She navigated them safely, so I was a bit slow to follow. However, when we heard the door to the laundry (and steps of doom) click open, I was after her in a heartbeat.
I almost did myself some serious damage as my sock-clad feet struggled for traction on the carpet at the top of our stairs. Fortunately, I caught the handrail and steadied myself before becoming the first in our family to go to hospital for a stair-related injury. I had no time to contemplate my near-death experience. Hannah was, in my mind, mere steps away from her own misfortune.
I cleared the flight of stairs in three great leaps and, using the banister as a kind of turning pole I slid around 180 degrees to run to the laundry. Again my socked feet made that part slightly more hairy than it otherwise would have been, and I once again had to steady myself, to avoid coming to grief on the tiles.
After gathering my composure I set myself to take off at full speed, only to look up and stop in my tracks.
There was Hannah, standing next to the laundry door, a big smile on her face. She had obviously enjoyed the show, and may or may not have now formed a connection in her brain that tells her that if she opens the door, daddy comes running in a crazy way.
Becoming a Big Girl
As I have mentioned before, Hannah has long known how to navigate the stairs. She takes herself up and down with ease and perfect safety in a well-practised motion.
But that is no longer enough. Hannah is hell-bent on growing up and becoming a big kid. A key part of that in her mind right now is using the stairs in the same way that the adults do. Thankfully, a few scares early on have helped Hannah to realise that she’s not quite ready to do it by herself. Unfortunately, that means that she DEMANDS that one of us help her. Every time.
Hannah now waits at the top of the stairs and makes a big noise. As we draw near to see what all the fuss is about, she holds out her hands and steps threateningly close to the edge of the top step. This, of course, leaves us with no option but to offer a hand. As soon as one is within reach, Hannah latches on and she doesn’t let go. Her grip is amazingly strong for little girl who has only been on this planet for 18 months, and she uses it to her full advantage.
Once she has secured a parent, Hannah is in big kid heaven. She grins from ear to ear as she slowly descends the stairs in an upright, forward-facing position. She is using the stairs just as we do and it’s obviously a big thrill for her!
Try and Try Again
Did I mention that Hannah has a strong grip? Did I also mention that she knows how to use it to her full advantage? I did? Good.
When we reach the bottom of the stairs, Hannah does not release her captured parent. That would be a waste. After-all, who knows when the opportunity to capture one might present its self again? No, Hannah doesn’t release her parent, she merely turns them around and prepares for the journey back up the stairs.
See, Hannah’s tiny toddler brain has a more profound understanding of one of the keys to a successful life than many of us adults. It is a fact that we probably all once had a grasp of, long ago, and it really is simple. Mastery comes through repeated, deliberate practice. Failure is a part of the journey. It presents an opportunity to learn, to get better.
Hannah wants to climb the steps like a big kid, and she already knows that the only way she is going to be able to do that is be practising and practising and practising until she can master the stairs.
Now to You
So, grown adult, now it’s your turn to master the stairs. What daunting learning have you been putting off, because you don’t think you can do it?
In what aspect of your life do you desperately wish to be like the big kids? Who is offering you helping hand to guide you safely off the top step as you take the plunge towards your goal?
Mastery is hard work. It requires sustained effort. Failure and its inbuilt lessons are fundamental to your eventual success. Can you handle that as well as a toddler does, or have you learnt to shy away and protect yourself? Are you really ready to climb that staircase again, and again, and again, or are you just waiting for someone to pick you up and carry you down?
Do you want my advice?
Go on, do it! Embrace the effort. Take a page out of the toddler’s handbook. Master the stairs.