When I was pregnant with Dale Jr, I started forcing the J-man to walk up and down the stairs by himself. I just couldn’t carry him. It took us a LONG (echo long, long, long) time to get him to go up the stairs, and coming down the stairs was even worse. Finally though, he did it. He held our hand, and walked up or down the stairs.
After Dale Jr was born, there was a point where everyone was sick. Everyone. And so we carried the J-man up and down stairs because he was that sick. He was pitiful – when we were downstairs, he would just lie on the floor and look sad. He had no sense of balance at all. And so, of course, he started to depend on us to carry him again. And, like idiots (or, you know, people who just wanted to get through the day!) we did.
I decided this week that the J-man was going to start going up and down stairs by himself again. The reason? Our incredible babysitter (Ms. Cindy) was over, and the J-man wanted to show me something while I was upstairs working. So while Ms. Cindy was occupied feeding the always hungry Dale Jr, the J-man just walked up the stairs. By himself. We were all shocked. But I figured, hey, if he could do it when he wanted, then we were dealing with a behavioral issue, and not a sensory one.
So we started. And it was AWFUL. He shrieked and cried and twisted and refused. I tried using Veggie Sticks as a reward. He didn’t care. I tried putting Legos on the steps. He would come up a step, pick up the Lego, and then go back down the step. He did that all the way to the top… and then went back down the steps because, Silly Mama, Legos don’t belong on the steps! But he refused to come off the steps into the second floor hallway.
I ended up picking him up, putting him on the steps, then closing the baby gate, so the only way he could go was UP. Oh, he tried to slither under that gate. He tried going through the spindles at the bottom of the stairs. But the only way to move was UP. The first time, it took us over an hour to go up the stairs. I went to the top and folded a load of laundry. I read some blogs. I purposely DIDN’T listen to the screaming. And it was hard. For everyone in the house.
Going downstairs was even harder, because I worried that he would fall. So I sat him down and showed him how to bump down on his bottom. He didn’t like that. I was so frustrated that I grabbed his feet and pulled him down each stair on his bottom, one at a time. He was SO upset by this that he tried to scramble back up the stairs! Tim had to do a lot of rocking in the mancliner to soothe.
We went two days like that. Diapers went a little longer than they should, because it was just so much work to go up and down the stairs. And then Wednesday morning, I put him on the stairs, and he walked down them. He freaked out at the bottom, but he calmed down pretty quickly. Same with going up.
Thursday, he walked down the stairs calmly when I walked with him. He walked up the stairs calmly when I walked with him.
Today, I guess he decided that it was time for a diaper change. He walked to the steps, walked up them by himself, and shook the gate until I opened it. I opened it, and he walked to his room for me to change his diaper. Then he walked back down the stairs. And we celebrated.
I know, a lot of people think, STAIRS? Really, you’re celebrating stairs?
Yes. Yes, we are.