Strange Milestones We Have Met

picture by JamesMalone via Flickr

Something strange has happened to my perception of childhood milestones. Perhaps because it took my daughter a little longer to meet many of them, I’ve sort of made up my own list along the way. It’s not that I’ve given up watching for the standard markers, it’s more that I appreciate events that other parents don’t give a second glance. Things like:

Learning to say no. Okay most parents recognize this one, but they aren’t necessarily happy about it. After months of echolalia – repeating the ends of questions instead of answering them appropriately – I was gleeful the first time I got “no” for an answer. Of course it was even more fun several months later when we added yes to the repertoire.

Imagining the possibilities. The child didn’t get imaginative play until well into her fourth year. I’ll never forget the day we were waiting to get her hair cut at a kid’s specialty salon and she was playing with a doll in the toy area. She decided to change the doll’s diaper – an event she had watched innumerable times with her twin siblings. She decided she needed some baby wipes, but there were none to be found. I watched in awe as she reached over to the wall and pulled an invisible wipe from the wall. I nearly cried for joy.

First play date without meltdown. For quite a while we gave up on play dates altogether. Where we live this is the social currency, and we had nothing in the bank. When we did try again it was only when the other parent could stay and only when they understood that things might not go well, but that we had to keep trying in order to help our daughter learn the skills she needed for these interactions to be successful. I think I had almost as much fun as my daughter did the first time we had a play date where the other parent dropped off their kid and I didn’t spend the whole time shadowing to preempt aggression.

A regular everyday need. The other day my daughter informed me, from a state of half-dressed, that she was out of clean underwear. I sighed as I walked to the pile of clean laundry to find some for her – shaking my head at my usual “behind-ness” in this particular chore – until it hit me. Not that long ago she would run out of undies in just a few short days due to waiting just a little too long to use the restroom. It was nearly impossible to stay caught up with her usage rate. Now it’s just all the other stuff pulling at me that drives the equation. I can live with that.

How about you? What milestones have you recognized that might otherwise just flow into your everyday expectations? Let’s celebrate these triumphs together!

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