Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Milestone Mania

I want to agree with this article on Slate by Nicholas Day bemoaning the milestone mania parents might experience as their children learn to do things like roll over, sit up and speak. Just the other day I was filling out a Kindergarten form for my daughter and it asked when she first did all sorts of things. I was annoyed, and I didn't remember any of it except for walking because both my kids walked "early," around ten or eleven months and because they were (and still are) on the short side, a lot of parents were a little freaked out by my walking babies.

And yet, and yet....when my son was two-and-a-half, he couldn't jump with two feet off the ground simultaneously. I asked my pediatrician about this. He said, "Don't worry. If he can't jump with two feet off the ground but can pedal a tricycle, he's fine." A few months later, Elliot would ride tricycles, but by pushing them with his feet, not pedaling. When he didn't hit a developmental milestone it was, in fact, meaningful, a tip off to some of the sensory issues he lived with and the kind of help he'd need.

Towards the end of the Slate article, Day writes: "Rather than a multitude of milestones, parents would sleep better with fewer but more relevant guidelines, an acknowledgement of how unstructured infancy actually is."

This makes sense, of course. (The bigger question I'd have might be not what parents do when their kids reach milestone (clap!) but what they do when they don't.)

We could all stand to take a deep breath on all kinds of things when it comes to our kids. Whether or not my kids "made" milestones never kept me up at night, my actual babies did that. But sometimes, you've got to be attentive because sometimes, they matter.


Carolyn said...

Did you go to Dr banner in Philly? for some reason I think maybe you did but maybe it was just chop faculty practice...anyway, He recommended a book to us as new parents: caring for ur baby birth to age five- actually the one child rearing book we held onto. I think it was fairly good re the milestones; wide ranges-just a general idea of what might happen during a certain stage (much longer period than weekly!?). And a checklist of things to look out for ..red flag stuff. I actually really really like that book. A lot. For exactly the reason that it seems to acknowledge the wide range and holds back from declaring a mold.

The problem I have is more not getting too caught up in comparisons with other people!

Robin Aronson said...

We did go to Dr. Banner (and a friend recommended that book, which i never opened-isn't that awful?), and he was very casual about the milestones -- which, as you know, with twins, don't get hit simultaneously. And the Slate article talks about general things to watch for. But, we'd already moved to Philadelphia when I noticed things with Elliot. Honestly, I think if there's something wrong, your gut is a pretty good indicator of it. As for other people, well, what can you do?