Am I the only one who still checks milestones with my children?
The hospital gave us a booklet, the child development center gave us What to Expect the First Year and others in the series. Over the years I now have Bright Start: Understand and Stimulate Your Child’s Development From Birth to 5 Years and Child of Our Time: Early Learning.
I have this little ritual. I mark my calendar for each month because everything is still measured in months for the babies and I would get my books out of a night and look through for the month at their milestones for that month. I wouldn’t cheat. ( As I saw it and look forward to the next month) I would look and see how they were doing.
Well with my first child I had the ‘want to know everything’ syndrome common to first time parents. I loved reading about science, development and play so I enjoyed reading and finding out about my little boy. It was exciting.
I really didn’t like the competitive way it seemed to always end up when I was at mother groups of sharing what my little one had done recently. I knew in my heart that most of us were not showing off, but proud and frankly we just wanted to share because we were excited first time mums, see first point. But if your child didn’t match up I know I felt this overwhelming feeling of being a failure. You see we never really talked about how they did these things on milestone or before milestone. We never discussed if it was nurture or nature or a mixture of everything. We just tooted our horns and sounded off.
My son was surrounded by girls and he was very different in his milestones than them. All our friends, playmates and groups were very girl heavy. …. maybe it was something in the water. Girls and boys are often VERY different when they are young. I wasn’t aware of it all yet but my first clues were there. I was intimidated by the girls language and my son’s lack of control and focus. They just seemed to have it all and I had the anxiety and the atypical one.
The boy mums spent most of their time retrieving their boys and later referring. But the girl mums got to chat and make friends because these girls sat and played. I guess if us boy mums had got together we would have organised the play differently…..for our sakes and our boys. But I didn’t know and we did the best we could. I knew there had to be another way for me to look at his milestones because peers signs were depressing.
I also knew, really I did but often forgot, that comparing my son to other children was not the best way to determine if he was on milestone or if indeed there was a problem.
I was never interested in pushing him forward but many of my peers were. That is hard. I did want him to do well and move forward. I did give him opportunities to try the harder next level stuff but I didn’t exclude the achieved things or force him to do certain activities all the time according to the books timetable. Around me there were a lot that did. That beginning stage was a big growth period for me to decide what type of parent I wanted to be. I’m glad for the experiences because it made me decide a few things.
- It’s OK to dream big and expect big. Just keep it age appropriate.
- New doesn’t = better.
- New is exciting but just because everyone is doing it, it may not be the best thing for me, us or our child.
- Old doesn’t = discard or better.
- Perspective is everything.
- Family traits play a larger role than you think.
- Having a variety of friends, family and influencers is the best thing because it forces you to think, adapt, reject and embrace ideals that don’t come up naturally to you. ( That is why mother’s groups are great even if they can be hard work)
- Success for you is different than success for your neighbour’s child.
- Have a plan otherwise you’ll follow blindly.
- Don’t take things so personally.
Not everyone will like your views or family decisions but the good news is there are lots of others that share the same position. Find them!