On Monday Ethan was off of work, and we met some friends at the park. They brought along an out-of-town sister-in-law with two children, and we had a mass of children running all over the park, along with what seemed to be two bus loads of disaffected high schoolers, for reasons not entirely clear, as it was a school holiday on Monday.
This particular park was surrounded by a high brick wall with lacy decorative brick work so that every here and there a brick was missing in a pretty pattern. The older kids found these very good foot and hand holds to climb up on the wall with, and they climbed up and then jumped off into the spiny hedge a few times before running off to the swings.
Clothilde had been milling about in the sand, playing with my friend’s youngest son, who is almost exactly her age. For whatever reason, she became inspired to ditch the plastic play equipment (this seems to happen to us a lot at parks) to climb the wall. She ran over and began trying to get a foot hold.
I had just been telling my friend and the sister-in-law that I still feel traumatized from when Clothilde began walking at nine months. It was having to keep all the chairs tied up, and the climbing. I’ve never gotten over it. The sister-in-law laughed knowingly. Of course she thought her children were just the same.
We spotted Clothilde trying to get a foot in the first missing-brick hole.
“It looks way too high for her to actually get her foot up there,” the sister-in-law said dismissively. Clothilde got her foot in, and began climbing. She pulled herself up on the top of the wall and began walking on it. The wall was taller than Ethan. She began clambering up the very high archway that went over the park entrance. It looked impossible, and she struggled a little, but she managed to slither up in under five seconds.
“Wow,” said the sister-in-law in considerable awe. “She got up there really fast. I can’t believe she got up there! She’s climbing higher!”
Several of the disaffected teenagers were watching tensely from a nearby pavilion.
“Dang!” they said, “that baby’s climbing the wall!”
“Look at that baby!”
“Oh my god, I can’t look. That baby’s on the wall!”
They went to another part of the park, looking shaken. One of them was clutching her chest and glancing back at Clothilde. The sister-in-law laughed nervously, and seemed to regret comparing her children. By this time Ethan was already over there, coaxing Clothilde to jump down to him. It was the only way to get her off the wall, she was so high up. Of course we are numb to it by now, so we were not even very anxious.