Athena’s on the roof and we can’t get her down

By Jason

If you’re familiar with the old joke, the title of this post might sound a bit ominous, but don’t worry about Athena, she’s fine. I was just kidding, we got her down.

So yeah, Athena climbed up on the roof of a house today. In retrospect I suppose it was inevitable. Ann and I have developed keen sixth senses when it comes to visiting new places. We see things in red-tinted Terminator vision – there’s an unstable lamp. She could get up on that table. Those glass vases are within reach. We have gotten good enough that Athena only surprises us by doing something she’s never physically been capable of before, or when we let our guard down.

We let our guard down. Not in a “bad parent”, 6-o’clock-news way. Let me explain. Dylan is the only other kid in Athena’s Little Gym classes that can regularly keep up with her. He’s younger, but just as tall, and just as fast a runner. His parents just got a new house and invited us over to their housewarming party.

This was strike one – we enter the home of a similarly-rambunctious two-year-old with conscientious parents. Things are already childproofed. Our Terminator senses scan the surroundings and find… nothing. We begin to see the world less like Terminators and more like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Twins.

Strike two – there are kids and parents everywhere. It wasn’t a huge party, but it was all families. Though all the other kids were older than Athena and Dylan, they were all generally following each other around and playing together really well. We weren’t the only ones watching the kids, which made us panic a little less when Athena ran around a corner.

Strike three – we begin to have conversations with other parents as if we are regular human beings. This is dangerous. Adult conversations are enjoyable and distracting.

At some point, all the kids ran upstairs together. They had been up there earlier, playing spies (side note: pretend spies talk about being spies a lot more than real spies do). We had seen the 2nd floor office and bedroom earlier and it looked kosher. I thought an adult was still up there, and was talking to someone, so I didn’t follow. I think Ann was even daring to eat something.

A short while later, Dylan’s dad, who is a pretty mellow guy, walks over to Ann and says, “Well, I just rescued my son and Athena from the roof.”

They had made it out to the little deck on the 2nd floor, and from there found a way to the roof. I’m not exactly sure how. But they did.

So everything is fine, but now Ann and I need to add “scan the roof for any possible access points.” to our mental checklists. It’s like we’re trying to defend against ninja attack. And the ninja is our daughter.


Athena didn’t eat much at the party because she was having so much fun with Dylan and the other kids, so we decided to go to our standby, Denny’s. For some reason she tends to eat pretty well there.

At Denny’s our table was opposite a wall made of rough-hewn rocks. I didn’t really notice, because they had been painted over when the restaurant was updated, but Athena did.

Athena: “I climb rocks?”

Ann and I firmly but kindly assured Athena that those rocks were not for climbing and that there would be no more climbing of any kind today.

About fifteen minutes later, after Athena was done eating:

Athena: “I climb rocks… really nicely?”
Me: “Did she just say she would climb really nicely?”
Ann: “Yes she did.”
Athena: “Climb over the table?”
Ann and I together: “No, we don’t climb on tables.”

Athena, matter-of-factly, having decided our input was no longer valuable: “I climb rocks to the ceiling.”


I have to say that our lives are not all ninjas and diving boards. This morning I took Athena to the Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose and we had a great time. Athena dug up fossils in the sand, played really nicely in the bubble exhibit, and saw a concert with guitars, drums and a violin. She got to hug a robot, and helped him walk to the stage. She’s a great kid. She just sometimes climbs up on the roof, and I am compelled to write about it.

Last weekend, at the Mountain View Farmer’s Market, Athena played the blues:

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