This weekend, Eddie had a fall down our one and only staircase. It is not a carpeted stairway, but does have walls on each side to keep him contained. Eddie was crawling up the stairs, which is his only way of independently making the climb at this time, and somehow ended up going down instead of up. He was near the top when he fell, so I can imagine it was very scary.
My husband heard his loud descent, and quickly ran to his aide. (I was not home at the time.) He scooped Eddie up and comforted him until he stopped crying. After a recuperation period of less than ten minutes, Eddie calmed himself down. His dad checked for bumps, bruises, and broken bones, but none were to be found. This was a huge relief.
The uneventful end to this story may have you wondering why I felt like sharing this misadventure. I wanted to share to tell you what we, as parents, did next. There were a few choices we could have made in relation to Eddie and the stairs.1) We could have blocked off the stairs with baby gates, or something similar, and denied him access.
2) We could have insisted that Eddie only travel on the stairs with an adult, and never independently.
3) We could have decided to let Eddie keep his current level of independence in our home, without restrictions.
Instinct makes us want to protect our children from any accidents or the chance of being hurt. However, if you have read any of my earlier postings, you will know that sheltering Eddie was not what we chose. We picked option number three, encouraging him to continue his strides towards independence. We hoped he would be courageous enough to tackle the stairs again, which he did that same day.
When Eddie first began climbing stairs, we didn’t just let him do so with complete freedom. Instead we taught him skills and techniques to allow him to safely travel up and down. We knew he needed specific tools to travel alone, and we gave them to him.
Every obstacle he decides to overcome may have challenges. We know that he can, and will, get hurt from time to time. However, we are going to be the last people to tell him he cannot do something, especially if it is a step towards independence. Frankly, Eddie’s sighted sisters have fallen down the stairs many more times than Eddie. Maybe Eddie could teach them a thing or two about safe travel.