Steep & creaky farmhouse stairs

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The stairs in our house are steep. So steep that when Kyle first learned to walk, his occupational therapist told us that she didn’t know a way to teach him to walk down them. Physically, it was nearly impossible to either walk forwards or crawl backwards considering the length of his legs. So for over a year, we carried Kyle down the stairs.

After his baby brother was born, things got a little dicey. I couldn’t carry two kids down the stairs at once. Kyle had to learn to crawl down, but it was anything but comfortable: they’re wood.

I painted them when we moved in, but the paint was starting to peel and I didn’t want the lead paint underneath to be exposed. I haven’t written much about my obsession with old houses (more on that later), but I held off getting carpet on the stairs because I had fallen in love with the worn treads. Silly, I know. But there are over a hundred years of history in these steps.

We had to make a decision with our kids, not my obsessions, in mind. So we buckled down and had carpeting put on the stairs. Before long, Kyle was descending them on his own.

Fast forward to this summer, the time when we stopped carrying baby brother down the stairs. One day I decided to stop holding Kyle’s hand and see how he did. He walked down the stairs holding the railing, in perfect form. It was magical to see him descend with complete independence.

Yet now, unfortunately, I present my first challenging small moment. Lately, when I bring my two youngest boys to the stairs, little brother walks happily down while holding my hand. Kyle stands at the top.

It’s as if Kyle is standing on the edge of a diving board. His little toes go over the edge of the top step, then he quickly retracts them. He hesitates. I try every combination of words I can think to convince him to walk down the stairs. I talk about the delicious breakfast we will eat in the kitchen. I say that Daddy is waiting for him. I remind him what a big boy he is walking down the stairs. This can go on for 10 minutes.

He probably senses my stress, because most mornings we do have a time crunch. Most of the time, at some random point, he decides to walk down. And we rejoice and clap and encourage him. Sure, I could just carry him and avoid the whole process. But he’s a smart kid. Carry him once, and I’ll be carrying him forever.

Don’t even get me started on going up.

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About Katie

Katie Bee is the author of for Elysium blog: a site about family, Down syndrome, home, art, and writing.

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