Monday, January 3, 2011

bag o' tricks

A colleague always asks, "What tricks does your little one do these days?" And after spending the afternoon with two other children - at around the turtle's age - I realized that each benchmark is like a new trick which people (primarily parents) nurture and celebrate. And yesterday, we couldn't help but make comparisons, "Baby A and B are crawling, Baby C holds his own bottle, Baby D is 30 inches long, Baby E says 'Mama', Baby F does Quantum Physics in his sleep." Well, maybe not.

Our friend, and one of the baby's father's said it best, "It's not a competition." And he's right, it's not a competition but it's easy to get a little wrapped up in the comparisons. Especially if you see your child not doing something that the others are. For example the turtle isn't crawling. At least not forwards. He rolls, he scoots, he pushes, and he even does what one might consider a crawl in reverse, but if he wants to get from point A to point B - he manages to do it without getting on all fours. And everyone agrees this is fine. Our doctor says that she's seeing more and more children, bypassing crawling all together, but you can't help but feel a little insecure when your kid is the only one in the room not doing a certain thing.

Now of course our turtle does have his own bag of tricks. He was the only one holding his own bottle yesterday. He's also a great talker. When he's sad he says, "mama mama mama" (though I don't think he's necessarily crying for me) and when he's hungry he says, "dada dada dada" (though I don't know that he's crying for Chris.) He also shakes his head "no" and is beginning to recognize certain signs like "sleep" (he thinks the sign is hilarious - big surprise) and "kitty."

But all that aside, we do need to be careful not to see the turtle as a set of benchmarks or milestones, but rather a growing and changing child developing a personality (including strengths, fears, interests, and preferences) at his own speed.

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