My daughter, Samantha, is a late bloomer. She didn’t walk until she was almost 18 months old, and she never crawled at all. She “scooted” on her bottom to get around, but didn’t even start doing that until she was over a year old. At 19 months she began working on climbing stairs. Most kids start by crawling up stairs, but she’d never moved around on all fours so I didn’t know how it would work out.
We lived in a one story house at the time she found her stair calling, but at least there were 4 steps outside going from the deck to the sidewalk. We practiced a lot with me holding her hands as she stepped up or down as an adult would. She loved it! While playing on the sidewalk, she would come back to the stairs over and over again. If I wasn’t there to hold her hand, she would just sit on the bottom step. After a few days of this, she began swinging her legs up so that she was completely up on the first step. I told her that she could get up the rest of the steps in the same manner – just stand up and repeat it three more times. I thought she’d probably do it that way eventually.
One day she was playing outside on the sidewalk by herself while I put groceries away inside, watching her through the window. (We were surrounded by farmland with no neighbors, traffic, or other dangers like that.) She had been out there about 3 minutes when I looked out to see her crawling up the steps on her hands and feet! She was on the third step and just about to reach the top. At first I was terrified but I restrained myself, watched her complete her mission, and then went out and gave her a big hug and congratulations.
I never showed her how to crawl up like that. Nothing in her experience made me think it possible that she would even try it. If I had been outside when she tried it I would have hovered, worried that she would fall. But I don’t think she would have tried at all if she knew I was watching.
Quite often, the new things that Samantha does occur while I’m watching out of the corner of my eye. Even when I show her how to do something, she usually doesn’t give it her full concentration and effort until my back is turned. And many times, she doesn’t do things the way I showed her to at all. Stepping back and not helping her too much is a great challenge for me, but I feel a deep joy in watching her find her own way. She is already an independent, thinking being – and I think I like her. I like her a lot.