When not to listen to your parents

In our kitchen, we have a plastic kid’s table. It’s a single piece of plastic molded into the shape of a little picnic table with benches on either side. Amazing the things you can find at garage sales!

In any case, one of our big challenges with N has been that he loves to climb on this table. From the time he first started crawling, it fascinated him. Whenever we put him down anywhere in the den or kitchen, he’d work his way towards it. The problem is that once he reached the table, he could climb it almost as fast as he could crawl. He’d go up a bench and on to the table, and then he’d contemplate crawling off the end and falling to the floor. I don’t think falling was part of his plan, but it might as well have been – since that’s what he invariably ended up doing.

He’s not, for the most part, a loud child. Instead he has a quiet sort of persistence to him. He’d go from happily playing with a toy to climbing the table in an eyewink.

Now that he’s walking, the problem has actually gotten better. Sure, now he runs to the table (instead of crawling), but he’s also more stable. We’ve managed to teach him that it’s okay to sit on the bench and not okay to stand on the table.

The other day, N was at the table again, standing on the bench. J and I were playing with C on the couch at the time. I noticed N’s ascent and mentioned it to J. She decided to show me how well N would listen to her. Instead of getting up and picking him up, J said "N, we sit at the table." N looked over at her with a somewhat guilty expression, and started to sink slowly to sitting.

He looked at me and I smiled encouragement. He looked back at J, who said "Good! That’s right! We sit at the – "

Then he lost his balance and fell over backwards, bouncing off the table and on to the tile floor with a loud thud. There was a moment while we all looked at each other, stunned, and then N broke from his quiet ways with a howl. He glared at J accusingly, crying with all his heart.

There’s really only one thing to do at a time like that. I glared at J, too.

I don’t think he was fooled, but it was worth a try.

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