Saturday, March 24, 2012

Storming the Gate (Diapers, Drool, Determination)

How we overcome obstacles in life defines us. Even at a young age.

~The Obstacle~
Infant safety gate with added support board and clamps

“...she was wise, subtle, and knew more than one way to skin a cat” 
-Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, 1889

~Unique Solutions~

2001: Caleb, Fall Down & Scream
In my mind, this was the expected reaction from a toddler confronted by a seemingly immovable and impassable object. I remember watching as he walked up to it, pressed against it, and then he would drop down onto his diaper padded bottom, and the tears of frustration would fall as he would sprawl out long on the floor and cry. After a few days, he accepted that (1) the gate could hold him, (2) he had no reason to panic. His method was adaptation and acceptance. He would make it work for him.

2004: Aleksandra, Attack & Destroy
Her approach was a shock to us because we expected that she would respond like Caleb. We had yet to learn that she was a different animal. She would attempt to simply push it down. If this did not work, she would stand back, size it up, and then rush forward and hit it like a linebacker. We went through several styles of gate before we found a plastic one that we mounted into the studs of the walls. We could sit downstairs and hear the thunder of her feet and the impact as she bounced back from the plastic. Her method was simple brute force. Her determination can move walls.

2012: Sterling, Strategic Design
This child has a systematic approach that identifies and exploits weakness. We sat back to watch and learn as she approached the gate and thoroughly examined its form. She first peered over the top and then attempted to raise each leg across the bar. She looked along each side, running her hands along the edges and pushing against the surfaces. Finding no solution, she stooped down and attempted to peer underneath, also attempting to wedge her fingers in the cracks to dislodge it. She again stood and peered over the gate. She wanted downstairs. She turned and began walking away... I smiled, thinking that she had chosen the Caleb method and would be content to accept the boundary. As I turned away, I froze still like the victim in a slasher film as I heard a chair scraping across the tile floor. You have got to be kidding me? I watched as she resolutely pulled the heavy metal chair 10 feet across the kitchen and positioned it against the gate. I stared in awe as she pulled herself against the chair, lifted her right leg up, and hoisted her body onto the seat. She turned at me and smiled as she gripped the top of the gate. As I removed her from the gate-crossing device, I realized that I am in trouble. This is a child who is not limited to a specific approach. She gets what she wants by examination and creativity. She enjoys the challenge, and is satisfied by finding solutions.

I love watching these three minds engage life. It is amazing to see how approach can determine outcome. It makes me re-examine the obstacles in my own life. I also realize now that Kellie and I are outnumbered, and out-brained. We pray for wisdom and eyes in the back of our heads. Should these 3 ever team up against us (you know they will...) we are gonna be in trouble!

By chance, those of you who are astute observers may have noticed another player in the periphery of that photo. Our dog, Bentley also is limited by the gates. He has the ability to jump them all, but is reluctant to do so. With coaxing I can get him to leap them, but left alone he will simply lay down against them and wait for my return. 

Perhaps the difficult thing in life is simply lining up the right approach with the right situation? What is my strategy today: adapt, crash through, plan & execute, or wait for the call of someone I trust? 

Thank goodness that I have examples of each method! Lord knows I need them all.

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