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Preschoolers and Escalators

As a mother, we are supposed to teach our children the ways of the world.  The ins and outs, the ups and downs.  They trust us to prepare them so that one day, when they are on their own they will be able to handle things on their own.

While I am sure it’s not my only short coming as a parent, I realized the other day that I am failing my job in a certain area.  Escalators. My kids are clueless when it comes to these moving stairs.  In Jackson’s prime escalator learning years, the twins were babies and in a stroller so we took the elevator every where.  Now with three kids 4 and under I just don’t see how one adult can teach three kids at once how ride the escalators.

It’s the getting on that is the most difficult.  If you have ever ridden up or down with a small child, you’ll know that there is a level of hesitation that they all go through when engaging the stairs. If you as the adult step on too early, you’ll quickly find yourself doing some version of the Stairmaster as you convince the little one to join you.  However, if you don’t take the lead, the child is not going to feel comfortable making the first step.  So it’s a game of timing. Getting it just right so that you are both stepping on at the same time.

Now times that by three and you understand my problem. A few months ago, the elevators at the gym were broken.  I was parked three flights down and the only way up was to take two flights of escalators.  Knowing there was no way I could get them all to step at once, I put a child on each hip (a skill all mothers of multiples have mastered) which only left Jackson to get to ride the stairs. Only he wouldn’t budge. My time was running out as there is only so long you can convince two two-year-olds to remain still in your arms. I was getting no where.  Finally, a man who had gone before us and heard my pathetic efforts at encouraging Jackson, turned around and said “Would you like me to come back down and hold his hand?” I said yes. Hillary Clinton’s It Takes a Village was flashing in my mind.

Not that holding a strange man’s hand is any more comforting for a 4-year-old. But desperate times call for good Samaritans that are willing to ride the escalator back down to help a struggling mom. Even more awkward was the ride down two hours later when there were no offers of help.  This time I had to ask a strange man for help.

So after that experience, I gave up. Short of taking them out for some one-on-one practice sessions, I don’t see how this is ever going to happen. And now I’m worried they are behind the curve. Because kids younger than them ride the escalators with the ease of Michelle Kwon doing a triple axel.

They’ll be okay, right? They wont be 12 and hanging out with their friends at the mall only to arrive at an escalator and stop like a deer in the headlights, right?


Katie Anderson

I loved this story when you first told me! I miss you terribly and am coming in town this weekend. Calling you tonight!

Gene Wiley

When I was travelling with Grandson Jackson this summer, we came to an escalator at the airport. I took it for granted that he was familiar with them. However, as I stepped on the first stair and started moving away, he was frozen. Fortunately, I was able to lift him onto the stair in in time. He did much better the next time we encountered one!

[...] I would like to apologize for what happened earlier today on the escalator.  I realize that you were late for work and my children and I were blocking your path on the escalator.  I do realize that there is an unspoken rule when riding on the escalator to keep to the right so that others can pass.  I am aware that I was in full violation of that rule today.  I do not expect you to understand the complexities involved when riding the escalator with three preschoolers.  If you care to find out, I suggest you read this. [...]

[...] I know I would have forgotten if I hadn’t written them down. Like how hard it used to be to ride escalators with my children. Or the fun we had playing games. For three years this blog helped me while I struggled to find [...]