Monday, September 19, 2011

visual obsessions: upward

Our kids are incurable climbers, a tendency which has drawn its share of applause and, well, disapproval through the years. But I love that they are always looking upward, stretching toward, taking risks. While I follow them around with a camera (and a ready hand), I'll admit that it's sometimes hard to let them work themselves in and out of situations, to give them the space to explore their limits.

There are boundaries and rules, of course, but in general those are pretty broad. They have a lot of room to maneuver, and sometimes they get stuck and scraped and nervous. Sometimes they're not sure they can get down. So I stand below and offer some advice -- "left foot now, just a little lower. Hold on tight with your right hand and reach for the branch with your left." I am there, but I'm usually hands off.

There is something to be said for doubting and conquering, for trying and failing and failing again, and trying and maybe not failing. For learning to trust instincts and footing. For reaching the top and stretching one's arms to the horizon and daring it to claim it's unreachable.


  1. Spectacular photos, beautiful writing, and a lovely analogy for parenting.

    I've seen your kids climb, but I'm beyond impressed by the feat depicted in the first photo.

  2. Gorgeous photos!!
    I second Manuela, great parenthood lesson.

  3. do you recognize the tree in that first photo? it's the village right of passage, that tree. we'll have to take the baby back again when he's old enough just so all six of them will have had the chance to conquer it.

  4. Wonderful post. I once read a bulletin post by a mom asking how to get her kid to stop climbing everything. I only had one climber at the time, but I told her to teach him how to climb up and down instead of trying to stop him! Sure enough, he will climb when her back is turned, and he better know how to get down safely.

    Now my youngest is the most amazing monkey of them all, and although I don't like it when he uses me and my computer chair as a jungle gym, I do love his abilities. At 21 months, he has managed to climb to the top of our 5' dome. I wish I had the camera.

    As always, I love your pictures!!!