Posted by: emjb | April 12, 2007

Nearly 17 months

(pictures to come later)

Things have slowed down for us, or maybe we’ve just adjusted to the swiftness of the current. Nathan is moving at his own pace, and right at this moment, we’re keeping up. His own pace being, grow all your teeth as soon as possible, but walk slower than other kids; be bright and attentive and love to “read” your books, but speak only a few words in English (the rest in Toddler). Grow a little slower, but still be a 17-month-old in a body as big as a big 2-year old’s.

I’ll miss the sweet baby babbling, when he does learn real words, though I’m eager to hear him talk. It seems miraculous to see him walk, still awkward and stumping, arms bent at the elbows and held close to his sides, but walking all the same. Soon he’ll be using real words, and running, and using spoons, and it will be the most natural thing in the world. Right now all those things seem impossible to imagine. I mean, he’s still struggling with the whole sippy cup thing, even though I long to get rid of the bottles. And potty-training might as well be a trip to Mars.

Bedtimes can be bad and cranky, but sometimes they’re when he’s his funniest; all but asleep, he giggles and grins at you and flops around like he has no bones, looking for a comfy spot. He loves the lightweight pillow we got him, and knows that he’s supposed to put his head on it, but usually wrestles with it all night instead, rolling around in his crib. Sometimes he howls in the night and you have to pick him up (ooh, my back…) and he hugs you and puts his head on your shoulder and is comforted. Unless you try to put him back down without a bit of something in a bottle. Then, more howling.

More and more, he’s only waking once a night, and so his sleep deprived parents do occasionally feel less than dead in the mornings now. But there are no guarantees; every 3 nights of sleep still means 2 nights or so of more waking. We blame those teeth, though we’re down to the molars, which are the worst. Once they come in, I have the fantasy that he’ll start sleeping all night, and I’ll be able to work at 80% of my brain capacity, instead of the 45% or so I think I’m at now.

I do have just enough brain cells to pay attention to what he’s doing, and try to write it down and remember it, because so much happens so fast that it’s impossible to keep it all in mind. Which is why I’m glad he’s not speeding through every bit of it, that he has his own sweet leisurely pace. I want him to be someone who enjoys life, who doesn’t see it as a rat race, who may like competition but isn’t consumed by it. I want him to be a kid who finds his talent but also plays, with long blocks of time of doing nothing in particular but digging in the dirt, or playing hide and seek, or running through the sprinklers.

So many parents get into the Developmental Milestones competition, worrying about if little Wendell starts doing something a day later than little Wendy down the block. And sure, if Nathan does show a real delay, we’ll definitely jump on it to help him. So far, though, he’s puttering along at a fine pace and, especially when it comes to food, refusing to let anyone tell him when it’s time to do something new. I see his little self awake in there, taking it all in, communicating, sometimes being overwhelmed and sometimes jumping into the middle of things. He’s doing fine.

The older moms at work all have grown kids, and they were talking about the rat race high school is for so many; friendships lost when one had a half point more on her GPA, trying to game the system by taking easy classes, parents pressuring teachers to get that A, raise that score.

I just…no. I want Nathan to try, and to learn, but I don’t really care what his grades are so long as he passes. And I don’t buy the whole 4.0-is-a-ticket-to-Harvard thing…I mean, yes, if he wants Harvard, I guess we’ll think about that. But life is so, so much bigger than all of that mess. I don’t want him to miss it, to pursue a score that honestly, won’t make all that much difference down the line. There are plenty of colleges. He can find one that works for him, or find a college alternative that does, and providing he’s got survival skills, I’ll be happy for him. I’m not going to let him be lazy; he’ll do his homework, study for tests, write papers, complete what he’s assigned. And maybe he’ll be driven to be number one, or maybe I’ll have to nag him to pull in a high C.

But the standard of how well your child is doing, I want to remember then as now, is not: what measurement have they achieved on such and such scale compared to other kids? Rather, it’s; how well is he moving up? Is he making progress? Is there growth? So long as the answer is “yes” it’ll be impossible for me to be too unhappy.


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