Every time I go to the pediatrician, for either child, I have to fill out the form. You know the one. The one that has a series of questions about the things you might be worried about with your child’s development. Is your child using proper language? Are they looking to you for the right way to respond? Jesus. The first time I had to fill one out, I did it wrong and ended up sending the ped into a panic. “Wait,” she said, “why do you think your kid has to wait for you to respond and emotionally show their response based on you??” Realizing my error, I quickly recanted. “Uh…I didn’t know what it meant.” And I was being truthful. Sometimes I really don’t know what the proper answer should be especially with most of the questions being very obscure and bizarre. Or just the wording is weird. Either way, its annoying. And I never seem to finish it before they call us in because I am ALWAYS running late and my kid is the one who wants to play with ALL of the germ ridden toys in the office so I have to play man to man defense with them. Lately, I just give the doc a meek smile and say, “I’m not really worried about anything?” with the inflection to suggest I need reassurance from her.
Truly, I have never been worried about my children. My youngest, I was for maybe a minute, but that was because I thought maybe there was a hearing issue as a result of multiple ear infections. This led to slow language development, but as soon as ear tubes were in place, the language flowed like water. No issues there. And with both of my children, I had no worries about motor development, either. They both walked early; my first at 10 months and my second at 9 months. Yes, early. Memory is pretty good, learning new things is average, and most of the other items that parents would normally be worried about isn’t too much of an issue. I start to wonder about what’s normal though. How do you know if you child is in the right percentage?
As parents, we are always comparing. We look at the kid next to us at the restaurant, screaming for something (we can never understand what) and feel better about our own kids because they are stuffing their faces with pizza and french fries. At birthday parties, we watch in horror as the eldest child at the party begins taking baby toys from all of the little kids with no remorse, much to the dismay of the parents, and think, what is his problem? We usually jump to conclusions. Our kid is more advanced, is the smallest, is more feisty and babyish than others. And we size them up to anyone and everyone.
This doesn’t even take into account the nature vs. nurture debate. We know that there are certain milestones our kids should reach, but this doesn’t even touch what might be happening at home. We were at a party, and my kids were playing happily, minding their own business. One of the kids there kept coming up super close to both of them to watch what they were doing. And I mean, creepy, over-the-shoulder, breathing down your neck close. To the point that both of my kids (yes, even my 2 year old) looked at the kid, moved away bit with their toy and said, “I need my space.” Now, mind you, the kid was almost 6. How is it possible that he didn’t know personal space? A little later on, my eldest declared that they had to use the potty. I followed, as neither of my kids seem to understand privacy, especially in public places (i.e. announcing “I have to poop” loudly and leaving the door open to shout, “can you wipe my tush?”) I wasn’t in the door sideways, and the little boy (the same one who doesn’t know personal space), comes in, pulls down his pants, and starts to pee. And my eldest is ready to back onto the toilet, pants down. I said to the kid, “You need to wait your turn!” and pulled my own kid out of the bathroom, pants still down, to find another bathroom. Is this developmentally appropriate? Or is this behavior-related that the parents don’t know how to teach their kid common courtesy? My two year old still sometimes wanders in when my eldest or I are using the bathroom, but considering it’s about potty-training age, I can’t fault them just yet. But a six year old to do something as weird as this?!?! Are you fucking kidding me?
When people talk milestones, I half-listen. (Maybe it’s because my ped usually waves away “the form” that I didn’t have a chance to fill out because I didn’t have time, like she doesn’t need that to tell her my kid is doing okay.) No kid truly meets every single one, right? It’s totally fine if it takes longer for your kid to talk, walk, respond appropriately, play nice with others. As long as my kid is well-behaved, listens to directions, and isn’t outright malicious, I am okay with a few blunders here and there. Just as long as they wait for someone to be done peeing before they attempt to use the toilet.