“I fell,” sobbed four-year-old, Christie.
Not again. How many times do I have to tell this child to stop climbing? “What did you fall from?”
“I climbed on top of the bridge. I needed to see Shelley in her backyard. I wanted to invite her over to play. I slipped and hit my tummy on the side of the bridge.”
“Did you land on the bridge or in the garden?” The garden would be a softer landing, but she’d have fallen much further. The wooden bridge would be harder to land on, but not so far.
“On the bridge.” Christie lifted her shirt to reveal a bleeding cut. “Ouch, it really hurts.”
She could have been badly hurt. The railing on the decorative bridge that goes over the flower garden is much too high for her to be climbing on. At least she landed on the inside of the bridge when she fell. If she’d landed on the outside, she would have fallen at least four feet. “Let’s get that wound cleaned and cover it with some gauze.”
“Okay,” Christie wiped her tears away.
I disliked having to repeat myself again, but I just couldn’t let this teachable moment go by without reinforcing what I’d been trying to teach Christie since she had started walking. “Did you learn anything from this experience?”
Tears welled up again in Christie’s eyes. “If I don’t climb, I won’t fall.”
“That’s right. I seem to have to tell you that on a daily basis lately.”
“I’m sorry, Mommy.” Christie wiped her eyes on her shirt sleeves. “I’m just too short to see into Shelley’s backyard without standing on something. Climbing is just so much fun.”
“Do you remember what happened when you climbed up on the bed last year?”
“I fell off and hit my head on Daddy’s dresser.”
“Then what happened?”
“I had to go to the hospital and get three stitches in my head.”
“What happened when you climbed on the little plastic picnic table?”
“I fell down the other side and scrapped my knee.”
“What about the time you climbed on the big picnic table in the backyard?”
“I didn’t fall that time,” Christie protested. “I was jumping off the end. I was pretending I was flying.”
Christie put her head down, “I landed on my foot wrong. I hurt my ankle.”
“I broke a bone. I couldn’t walk for a long time. I had to hop or crawl everywhere I went with a heavy cast on my foot.”
“What about climbing the stairs at grandma’s house?”
“I don’t remember.”
“You don’t remember climbing the stairs and jumping back down. Then climbing to one step higher and jumping down again until you lost your footing and fell back down the stairs and hurt your hip in the process.”
“I guess I do remember that.”
“Do you remember falling down the stairs last month?”
“I didn’t climb that time. I was in a hurry to see Daddy. I just slipped."
“Do you remember climbing on the counter yesterday to get a plastic cup out of the cupboard?”
Christie nodded her head without looking up.
“Do you remember falling backwards off the counter and dropping the cups all over the floor?”
“At least I didn’t break anything. I didn’t break any cups. I didn’t break any bones either.”
“Not that time you didn’t, and I don’t want there to be a next time.” I didn’t want to overwhelm my little girl, but I really needed to drive home my point for her own safety. “What about last week when you climbed on the counter to get a cookie?”
“I wouldn’t have fallen that time, but I had a cookie in each hand. I didn’t have any hands left to climb down.” Christie looked up at me, but her eyes were filling up with tears again. “I had to get two cookie because Shelley was hungry too.”
“What about last night when you were over at Shelley’s house.”
Christie’s head dropped back down again. “We climbed the little tree in the corner of her yard.”
“Then what happened?”
“I didn’t fall. I just slipped when I went to climb down.”
“Did you get hurt?”
“I scraped my arms.”
“What can you tell yourself the next time you feel like climbing?”
“If I don’t climb, I won’t fall.”
“There, you’re all bandaged up. Please be more careful. No more climbing. If you don’t climb, you won’t fall.”
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