14 January 2010

Baby Steps

Unlike my husband, I am a bit...competitive. Not necessarily with other people, but against myself. If there's a top score, I want it. If it's possible to get an A, why would you want to get a B? In school, I never cared what other people got, but would rage bitterly over a grade like a 97. I missed three points? Why did I miss three points?!

But being a parent...isn't like being in school. Eamon is not a "project," and I've had to accept that I just don't have control over some things, like when he will roll over or crawl or walk. (And when you're a control freak like I am, this is a tough realization indeed.) He's a big kid, and they tend to do things more slowly, and he's a boy, and they tend to do things a little more slowly than girls, too, and he's Eamon, who also tends not to do things until he's positive he can do them more or less perfectly.

One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn as a parent was to stop.checking.the.milestone.chart.already. When I was home on maternity leave with Eamon, and had a bunch of time, I checked constantly. Then over the summer, I looked all the time, too, since I was a teacher and had a lot of time off. I was determined to find out that he was an uber-prodigy, and eagerly awaited for him to start writing Petrachan sonnets when he turned 7 months old.

Eventually, however, I came to realize that those milestone charts? They weren't helping. Because Eamon hadn't read them. He didn't know he was supposed to be sitting up by a certain date, or rolling over by a certain month. I was only making myself crazy when the "advanced" date passed us by...and then those rare times when the "average" date passed us by, too...

This isn't to say that he's behind. He's not, at all. And on some things, he is above average. Others, he's just average. He has great mechanical skills, and he's the only one year old I know who will look at something he knows he isn't supposed to touch (like an outlet), stop, think, decide not to touch it, then crawl away and clap for himself. Sometimes when he doesn't even think we're watching him! What kind of one year old has self control like that?

But other things...he is content to stay a "baby" a little longer. Because here's the thing: Eamon does things in his own time. For instance: walking. Eamon has been able to stand without holding onto anything since Thanksgiving. Over Christmas, he took his first step and promptly fell flat on his face. He cruises like a pro, but was afraid of taking another step. He's always been cautious that way: he doesn't stand up unless he knows he can get safely back down, he doesn't open drawers unless he knows he can get them shut again without crushing his fingers in them. He's a pretty careful kid.

Well, today, he took three steps for my mother. He did fine, didn't fall or anything, but didn't go very fast and was still pretty wobbly, so I think (and I could be totally wrong, because who really knows) that he decided to test it out again, realized he still didn't have particularly good balance, and decided to go back to something he knows he can do well: crawling. In a couple of days, or a week, or a couple of weeks, or maybe even a couple of months, he'll try it again and he'll have better balance and eventually he'll be confident enough to actually start running around everywhere.

And you know what? That's okay.

He'll get there, and I am finally coming to the realization that nowhere on his application to Stanford or Harvard is it going to ask the date he started walking or how many words he could say by 12 months of age.
And someday, I might even be okay with him not going to Stanford or Harvard, but like Eamon, I'm taking things one step at a time.

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