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Pediatric Olympics

Pediatric OlympicsWhoever said that the Olympics come around only every two years lied. There’s a competition of games happening everyday, on playgrounds, parks and play dates all over the world. But there are no javelins or sprints or relay races involved, instead, crawling and walking and talking have replaced them. Light the torch and welcome to Pediatric Olympics!

Well, perhaps it’s a little bit more subtle than lighting a torch and walking through a public square. But make no mistake about it, the games have begun and the competition is alive and well. Marking and comparing a child’s progress may not be an official category, but it certainly is a parenthood pastime. 

I myself have some experience in these matters. Case in point: our daughter is particularly tall for her age. Now being first time parents, we didn’t think about it much one way or another. Why would we really, being first time parents and all. Then one day, our doctor mentioned the following, “You know, for her age, your daughter is in the 95th percentile for height.” Well that’s good! I mean, in school that would amount to an “A” right? OK, excellent! My husband and I suddenly felt a big wave of pride and happiness, like we had accomplished something. Maybe we can handle this parenting thing all right after all, riding on the high of this wonderful piece of news! 

Other people noticed too: “My goodness, how old is your daughter? She looks older; she’s tall for her age! You must be so happy.” And with that sometimes that other parent would glance at her own child with an anxious look, as if they were wondering when their child’s growth spurt would happen. Of course I never took pleasure in that type of look, but I did feel triumphant that my own daughter was growing well. I’m aware I used the word triumphant, as if I could possibly take credit for this as a parent. As if a particular choice in my parental skills actually helped this process. But I was filled with pride, just the same.

Cut to our daughter’s motor skills. She started crawling at the ripe old age of ten months, and she didn’t take to it immediately. Walking followed a similar suit — she started late and seemed to take her time wobbling about unsteadily. And then after time…nothing changed. She still wobbles. She’s more sure-footed than she was in the beginning, but when she starts running she looks like the clumsiest (and cutest) child I’ve even seen. My husband likes to joke that she could fall over just standing still. And she does — quite often. At first I was nervous about her development, is this normal? Our doctor (whom we love) didn’t seem too concerned, and said she was perfectly fine. My husband and I exhaled with relief.

And then, at playgroups, play dates and our family gatherings, we started to hear about it from others. It was never presented as a direct question out of the blue — it always had a soft and pleasant preface before getting to the point: “How old is your daughter now? Oh that’s a wonderful age! Tell me, is she supposed to be walking like that? I mean, she’ll probably grow out of it right?” It’s hard to admit, but in moments like that, my heart falls a little. I can’t help it, it just does. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been a little competitive (my husband would object to the word “little”). Or perhaps because I want her to be sure and steady on her feet now, like the other kids I see at her age, who seem to take each step as if they were powerfully planting their territorial mark on the rubber mats of the playground. Whatever the reason, I feel anxious as I want her to be caught up and on the “right path and at the right pace.” 

It’s at this moment I realize that unless I change my way of thinking, I’m officially setting myself up for a world of hurt. According to our doctor, my daughter is growing on par, and as long as he’s OK with it than so am I. It’s time to let this other stuff go. I cannot control my daughter’s height anymore than I can control her steps. Yes, at first glance, it appears that she is clumsy or unsteady. But perhaps I’m looking at this the wrong way. Maybe it’s her zest for life, the excitement and vigor bursting out of her that makes her physically falter. Perhaps her body just needs to grow in size to catch up to the absolute joy and excitement she feels when running. Which shouldn’t be a problem because, you know, she’s tall for her age.

Author: Amy

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Hello Ladies!

I just wanted to say thank you for this article.  I think we all  forget that every child develops differently, and it’s so hard to  NOT take it personally when our child does or doesn’t follow the  little milestones that represents the bell curve of normal  development.  My daughter was very late to do pretty much  everything.  She didn’t crawl until she was 14 months, she didn’t  walk until 19 months, and now, at 27 months, I’m just now getting to  hear her verbalize what’s been going on in that cute little head of  hers!  And every day that she didn’t get up and crawl to me, run  into my arms, or speak to me I started thinking, “What in the world  am I doing wrong?!?!?!”  I asked my pediatrician, who said she was  fine.  Months passed.  I searched the internet for advice, asked  other moms in chat rooms, called specialists, asked everyone I could  possibly think of – what could I do for my child to help her crawl,  walk, and talk.  And shamefully yes, it took me two years to figure  out that my child has her own timelines for doing things – what she  wants, when she wants.  I guess she’s a lot like her dad that way  (okay okay, maybe its my genes manifesting here).  So, I threw my  What to Expect books in the garbage, stopped getting e-mail updates  on what my baby/toddler should be doing now, and just started  enjoying her accomplishments as they came.  It was the biggest  lesson of parenthood so far for me.  There was absolutely nothing  wrong with the way she developed, but everything wrong with my  perspective and expectations.  Its so nice to know that I’m not  alone and other people go through this too.  Thanks for writing the  article.  This is why I love Better Way Moms! Because we all get to  read confessions of our little secret parenting sins and say “Whew!  Someone else felt that way too. What a relief!”

Salt Lake City, UT

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