Well, it has happened, much sooner than I had hoped. Kenna has mastered stairs--at least, going up them. Since she hasn't quite developed a good grasp of the concept of gravity, life as we know it is finished.
If you saw the pictures of our house, you can see the difficulty Kenna's new skill presents. With a sunken living room and family room, the only place to go (in Kenna's mind) is...up! I no sooner set her in the middle of the family room with some toys than she is scampering over to the stairs, climbing up them and proudly looking back at me as if to say, "Aren't you coming, too, Mom?!" She then scoots around the corner to the big staircase, at which point I am right behind her. I've allowed her to crawl up the carpeted steps several times, letting her get a feel for what could happen if she decides to sit down with a cheek hanging off a step. She hasn't fallen yet, but if it weren't for my hands right behind her she'd definitely have been in the ER.
Since I can't very well let her wander at will, I've tried being creative in order to pen her in. The gap between the family room and the dining room is too big for the gate we have, and even so, the wall curves at the only point we could lock it in place. So I've taken to laying two dining room chairs down beside each other. I learned quickly that I couldn't simply SET the chairs there--Kenna pushed and pulled one out of the way and escaped within moments. The first time I laid the chairs down I made the mistake of assuming that simply placing an obstacle before her would deter Kenna from trying the stairs. She crawled through the legs and became frantic when she realized she was trapped in a "pen."
Third time was the charm--I placed the chairs in a way so that Kenna could neither move them nor get caught in them. It worked. And we spent a lovely 20 minutes listening to her scream because I was fixing lunch in the kitchen and she was not.
This afternoon I tried taking a project to the couch so she could play with the obstacles in place and not be so upset that she couldn't be where I was. It worked! She explored her little domain quite happily. (Who needs toys, anyway?) I think we were in that room, Charis reading, I working on swap cards, and Kenna moving about, for at least a half hour before she got tired and started to fuss. Whew. There's hope for at least a minimum of activity during this phase!
We do playpen time one or two times every day, anywhere from 20-30 minutes, depending on how well Kenna is doing at the time. (In fact, that's the only reason I'm able to blog at the moment, since Ted is working late this evening.) Those times are when I can get a shower, answer some emails, or do something that involves not having to look over my shoulder every other second to see where my little Houdini has gotten herself.
I will say this is definitely throwing our school schedule for a loop! I don't feel safe doing school with Kenna on the loose, though now that we've gotten the chair wall to work, we can probably at least do our Sonlight reading in the family room while she roams. We've taken to cramming in as much school as possible during Kenna's morning nap, and the rest of the day kind of goes downhill from there.
I know we'll eventually get used to this phase. And Kenna will eventually learn how to navigate the stairs both ways so I won't have to worry about her killing herself. But then my worries will just be beginning...the rate she's going, she's going to be a pro mess-maker!