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Be flexible with child' milestones

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POSTED: July 22, 2014 2:00 p.m.

My 2-year-old is a chatterbox. I have no idea where she gets it from. (I’m being sarcastic, of course; it’s obviously a trait passed down directly from me.)
Reese’s recent vocabulary explosion has been good for quite a few laughs, that’s for sure. Last Saturday morning, for example, my husband and I heard our daughter stirring in her crib, clearly up and ready for the day. We went in to her room to get her and my husband asked, “How long have you been up for?”
Reese replied, “Too long!”
The following day, I was sorting laundry and preparing to start a load. Reese saw me holding the pink dress she’d worn a few days earlier and asked, “I put that on now?”
I told her it was dirty and that I was about to put it in the wash.
“OK, wash it clean, Mommy. I wear tomorrow,” she said.
True to her word, she did wear the pink dress to daycare Monday.
On Wednesday evening as I was scurrying around the kitchen, rushing to get dinner on the table, I paused for a moment and leaned on the counter while sipping a glass of water. Reese was sitting on a stool at the breakfast bar, coloring a page in her princess activity book. She looked up and saw me absentmindedly nursing my beverage and staring off into space.
I must have looked tired or exhausted, because she patted the stool next to her and said, “Sit, Mommy. Relax with me.”
I went ahead and took her up on her offer, but only until I noticed the pot of spaghetti start to boil over.
I love that Reese is so vocal these days and can finally tell us what she wants and needs, notify us if something’s wrong, describe (in bits and pieces) her day at school and suggest activities.
Each day, I’m delighted to learn she’s picked up yet another phrase or sentence. I’m especially tickled when Reese asks me questions, which lets me know she has a good grasp on basic interactions, is interested in learning more about those around her and sees how people communicate with each other.
I’ve talked about Reese’s verbal development with my sister-in-law, a speech language pathologist who earned her master’s degree from Vanderbilt University. Although I’m confident my daughter is hitting her milestones, it’s still nice to occasionally hear it from a professional.
And while I’m thrilled that Reese is on track, I try not to put too much stock in rigid developmental guidelines. Sure, there can be cause for concern if a delay of some sort is suspected and, generally, a pediatrician or specialist is the best person to consult about such things. I’m certainly no expert here, but judging from articles I’ve read, parents I’ve talked to and research reports I’ve studied, every child is different, and they learn at varying speeds.
I have friends whose children were late talkers, rarely uttering a word before the age of 2. I can definitely see why a parent might worry (I’m guilty of the occasional fret fest), but all of those little ones turned out just fine. Similarly, I once had a co-worker whose son didn’t get the hang of potty training until he was nearly 4. He’s now a healthy, happy elementary-school students who perfectly grasps the restroom concept. Heck, I spent months agonizing over my infant’s lack of teeth. Reese didn’t cut a tooth until she was about 8 months old, while our next-door neighbor’s grandson had two chompers by the time he was 5 months.
There will always be something to concern new parents. Yes, milestones are important, but I hope moms and dads will remember that each child grows and learns differently, and we need to give our kiddos a little “wiggle room” when it comes to meeting developmental guidelines.

 

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