Denise, our cat, made a mischievous discovery yesterday. We had her in a harness with a 20 foot lead tied to a fence in the back yard. Betsy was back there with her, when suddenly Denise just bolted across the lawn until the lead ran out and the safety harness gave way under the force. Free at last, our little kitty climbed a nearby tree. Betsy came and got me out of the shower with her concern that our furry child was in jeopardy.
I told her that I was pretty sure that Denise would be able to climb down from any tree she could manage to climb up. She is, after all, an experienced climber. I saw her slip once while climbing a folded up wooden step ladder. She ended up hanging on under a rung upside down--and she still managed to climb back onto the right side of the step and climb the rest of the way down. So I thought she would probably be okay.
Sure enough, there was Denise a good 25 feet in the air crawling out onto a limb having a grand old time. Once she had enough she made her way back down with some impressive and creative moves. At one point she shimmied down the trunk backwards. I took her off a low branch despite her complaints and took her inside.
Hard to know how to balance giving creatures freedom to explore and take risks versus protecting them from making costly mistakes. It's the classic parental dilemma, I suppose, but it also comes up a lot in any kind of teaching or care-giving or pastoral situation.