We started training for the outside world even before Alicia was fully grown. I figured if she started early the odds of her survival by herself would be greater.
The first day of training started with an introduction to the immediate outside world; the balcony. She surely acted like a complete rookie. I put her on my shoulder and we walked out there together, closed the door, so she couldn't go inside, and then just stood there and waited to see what she'll do. She didn't want to leave my shoulder at first and looked around with amazement for a while, and then figured this might be a new game. Either it was the excitement of a new game or the shear fear of an unfamiliar environment that made her jump off my shoulders onto the wall. She kept climbing straight up until reached the base of the ceiling then freaked out and stayed there for a while. The light fixture on the wall seemed to be very inviting, so she climbed her way over there and decided to stay there to clear her head. I felt sorry for the little fella and had to get on a chair to bring her back down. That's when I came up with a brilliant idea of creating a nest for her, one that could get attached on the wall, and she could use it as a base for outdoors 101.
We went back inside, so both of us could catch our breath. I got a shoe box and quickly designed a house for her. It had soft cushions inside and insulation outside for the rainy days. I attached it to the wall securely and was very proud of the outcome. We went back out again, and I put her right by the nest to help her discover her new house. I thought that would surely be the envy of all other squirrels. It was a cool house. She wouldn't even go near it. She simply hated it. That little brat took off to the opposite direction, and started climbing the wall towards the neighbor's balcony. Oh boy, that was a big no no. The lady neighbor was horrified of any moving fur, and Alicia was not only moving, but a jumping kind.
I started calling her frantically. I used every trick up my sleeve to get her attention, but she was determined to reach to the other balcony. She made it. She was out of my reach and hanging from the wall on neighbor's balcony. I guess the grass on the other side was simply greener, as both of balconies are exactly identical. My mom came out and both of us kept calling her and tried to lure her in with tempting foods and her favorite milk bottle. Finally she decided to climb her way back to us. The reunion was overwhelming for both of us. We decided that was enough for the day, and went back inside.
The same routine continued for the next couple of days. She felt more at ease in the balcony each day. She would get all excited and start running from one end of the retainer wall to the next. The Balcony had stucco walls, and that made it very easy for her to climb around using her tiny sharp claws. however, the top of the retainer wall was painted wood, and that made it very slippery. We had to throw an area rug over it, so she wouldn't fall down to the neighbor's yard. They had three cats staring at Alicia's tail and drooling all day.
She adopted to the balcony rather quickly, but we still had to conquer the rest of the big wild world out there. She had so much more to learn, and I had so much more to let go of.