Is there a surface in the world that a boy will not climb on? If there is, please tell me because I would like to build my house and all of my furniture out of it.
My boys are drawn to any surface or structure that has even a miniscule chance of being climbable (Is that a word? It is in a male-dominated household (MDH)). The need to climb intensifies when: 1. I am in a hurry, 2. We are running late, and 3. We are in the middle of the most crowded event in history with cars zooming by at 45 miles per hour (the more dangerous the situation, the better the climb apparently.) Most days, I have to add an extra 15 minutes to our schedule to ensure that we arrive at our destination on time. If I forget to do that and we are running behind, I have learned to use my body as a shield, blocking the boys’ view of any potentially climbable apparatus.
I understand the joy of climbing on certain things at certain times, and often participate in the predictable climbing extravaganzas. When we go hiking, we climb over and across fallen logs, we use fallen trees as bridges, we climb up and slide down big boulders, and we hop over rocks to cross creeks. This climbing I can understand. Why else go for a hike, if not to be adventurous and climb on whatever you can find?
Then there is the nonstandard climbing that my boys partake in. When we went to the balloon race a few weeks ago, the boys couldn’t go 10 feet without stopping to climb on something. We almost missed the race, even though we started heading that way an hour before it was scheduled to begin. They climbed on retaining walls. The climbed on stair rails (What’s wrong with just using the stairs? They’re right there!). They climbed on street curbs. They climbed on benches. They climbed on bike racks, from which Jack almost had to be rescued. Jack even tried to climb a lamppost. I think he was surprised that he couldn’t make it to the top. He must think he’s part monkey. Thanks a lot, Darwin!
When Jack was a baby, his love of climbing was a terrifying proposition for me. He had no fear, and there was nothing in front of him that he would not attempt to climb. This was a startling introduction into motherhood for me, and started my hair down the path to gray. Until, one day almost by accident, we came up with the brilliant game we called “Playing Couch.” This game consisted of John sitting on one side of the couch and me on the other. Jack would climb back and forth between us, on the top, front, back, and sides of the couch. Jack thought this was a great climbing game, but it really was a way for John and I to get a little rest.
Now that the boys are older, John doesn’t care to play the safe and restful climbing games anymore, not that the boys would participate. John has actually helped and encouraged them on their path to becoming climbing legends. He started small, with furniture. Then he advanced them to the tops of playground equipment, like jungle gyms or monkey bars.
Then he moved them onto trees. Then, the top of the car.
Then, they advanced to rock walls. And not the small rock walls. I'm talking the big ones that trained climbers practice on. What does that leave?
And I am powerless to stop it. I know that I'm about to see something scary whenever John yells, "Heather, bring the camera!"
Luckily, we live in St. Louis where there is a wonderful place called City Museum. I am both terrified and thrilled by this place. It is an explosion of an adult boy's imagination, and offers plenty of safe opportunities for climbing. I highly recommend it.