Children Aren't Cookie Cutters

I was a teacher for 14 years prior to my current career.  I can hear myself now telling parents how children aren't cookie cutters.  I was adamant about this as I tried to calm parents that I had to deliver the news that their child was behind or was concerned about development.  Yep.  Advice is great when you are giving it and not getting it.  I believed every word of it then and now,  but now I'm a mom.  And the tables have turned.

Being a practical parent is hard.  Quickly one discovers that the lists and milestones aren't always right, and my child like all other children is not a cookie cutter.  Its not that the lists and milestones are wrong, its just my child isn't fitting into that 'little box'.

Yes, I know he has a nearly 4 month adjusted age, but it still isn't easy.  Tuning out the voices of others is even harder.  And there are lots of well intended ones.  But is can be harsh and overwhelming.  
  • He will walk and talk when he's ready.
  • He's behind with his language development.
  • My grandson didn't walk or talk until he was two.
  • He needs to see an orthopedic doctor about his feet.
  • Look at how his feet turn out!
  • Is he walking side ways?
  • Can he say anything yet?
Some of the developmental toys we use.  Top left clockwise.
Rocker that strengthens core for walking.  Walker to help him
walk on on own as he pushes behind.  Weighted exercise ball
for standing and word cards for language.
Sitting at his last physiological evaluation I was faced with the word, "even with his adjusted age, he is still behind with his language development, his motor skills and…." before long it was like listening to the grown ups in a Charlie Brown cartoon.  Wha, wha, wha, wha… I get it.  I've looked at the list and trust me, I've heard all of the advice of others.  And FYI, most of the advice is from everyone that has never been where I have been.  

I feel like some days I just want to pound my fist and tell people, "When you've had a 25 week preemie that spent 6 1/2 months in the hospital, come talk to me."  But not really, I don't wish that on anyone either.  But, I just wish that more people listened rather than talking at me so much.

Okay.  So he turns his feet at 180 degrees out, walks side ways at times and babbles in his own language at 19 months.  And I love every bit of it.  So it's at his own pace, but I know he's developing I his own time.

But there's the moments when on the phone with my mom going over his weekly physical therapy that I cry.  Not because I feel sorry for myself or my son.

How did I talk to parents when I was concerned about milestones and development?  How did they feel in that seat? And did I give them the right kind of support?  I wonder what level of frustration they felt. I imagine now, that there were parents that felt the same mixed bag of emotions.  And its an eye opening experience in reality for me.

It's so easy when it isn't your child that is topic of conversation.  And now when I talk to other teachers and even our sons doctors I remind them about how a parent feels on that side of things.  It is scary.  It can be overwhelming and sad.  

But at night when we are reading his favorite bed time stories, he loves being read to hanging on every word.  I am reminded of how important it is to do those things and how much he benefits from that time, and how much it means to me to.  I'm reminded that he is like other children in all the right ways.  He loves his mother holding him and reading to him cuddled up in the safe comforts of his room.

And everything fades away into the background allowing me to see clearly what matters and what is right in my world.