Toddler Tales: Stairs

01/05/2012 14:10 | Updated 22 May 2015
Toddler on stairsD concentrates - for once! - on getting down the stairs

From the moment Diana started crawling, stairs have been a source of fascination for her and of terror for me. For D, stairs signify a new adventure every time she sees them; for me, they're just another safety worry.

Now a brazen walker, D is also an (almost independent) stair ascender and descender. This is as exciting for her as it is for me - it's yet another sign of my baby girl developing into a proper person. Exciting until I realise that now a significant portion of my day will be spent panicked and crouching on the stairs below her, in a spotting position should she trip, tumble or jump off at any point.

When I'm not doing that, I'm holding D's hand and escorting her down the stairs, or, on the occasions when she refuses to walk or bum shuffle at all, I carry her. Sometimes, D will push herself down on her tummy (feet first), which is my favourite method of her stair conquering: safe, quick and comparatively relaxing for me.

Luckily, I have Bolshy on hand (see pic above) to help me secure Diana from behind, too. Except sometimes Bolshy forgets his job and instead gallops up or down the stairs, threatening to crush, trample or trip D, and I panic even more.

D is completely convinced that she has mastered stairs and can walk up and down by herself, holding onto the banister for help (and sometimes not holding onto anything at all). While I admire her self-confidence and inflated view of her own abilities (surely a trait passed on from D's Daddy), I'm not entirely positive she's as competent as she thinks. Sure, when she's deep in concentration, patiently focusing on one step at a time and gripping the banister, she can be really proficient at stairs, but that happens one climbing trip out of 10.

For the other nine, Diana treats the stairs like her own personal playground. If I'm walking with a smoothie in hand, she'll demand to sip from my glass after each step. She'll hold court in the middle of the stairwell, giggling, turning this way and that way, chatting to me or one of the two stuffed animals that are accompanying her on this journey.

She'll alternate between sitting and standing, moving forwards and backwards, climbing up, then down and even writhing into a prone position across multiple steps. When Bolshy's sitting on the stairs in one of his favourite watchdog positions (he gets a good view of the street from the top step), D will cuddle him like they're sitting on the floor or couch.

As if all that movement wasn't stressful enough, D insists on making stair climbing and descending as difficult for herself as possible by always having her hands full. She always has a minimum of one object in each hand, often multiple. The other morning, she was torn between bringing her hardcover Bambi book and her Learn to Count with Little Rabbit book, so she tried to bring both, but they were too heavy to carry. I offered to take them; D refused, ran away, came back and the book saga began again until after several minutes D decided to give me one book and keep hold of the other. And then switched her mind about which one she wanted to carry once we got halfway down the stairs.

Some days, Diana is so overloaded with stuff (handbags, fruit, toys, brushes) she can't even stand upright, and other times, she'll attempt to bring ludicrous items with her (her wagon with alphabet blocks, her car). Each time you try to dissuade her, there's a fit, and if you try to remove whatever it is she's carrying from her hands to help her while mid-transit, there's a full-blown tantrum on the stairs (cue me running from holding her hand to spotting-and-ready-to-catch-her position).

Fortunately, we haven't had any incidents of D wandering onto the stairs unsupervised (we've been vigilant about keeping doors closed at all times and D still can't turn the knob). We do own safety gates but bought a travel version that we only tried to put up once. D - despite being barely a year old at the time - managed to knock the gate over with her finger after one prod.

I know relying on D not opening doors is only a temporary solution; soon she will be roaming freely around the house. Conveniently, we're moving next month. And our new place is stair-free.

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