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You know this story already, don’t you? Even if you don’t have a kid yet, you know where this is going to go! 

One of the most common –and annoying- games parents (and grandparents) play is the My-Child-Did-<fill in the blank> Earlier/Faster/Better than your kid. Sadly, the competition doesn’t even begin when the baby’s born, but usually far earlier. Of course, the parents’ crowing doesn’t come out that blatantly; the vehicle usually sounds like this: 

How big was Ally when she was born? Did you have a natural birth? Who was at the birth… midwife? Doctor? No one? How long was your labor? How far over-due were you? When did Ally roll over? Sit up? Crawl? Stand? Say her first word? Walk? Run? Potty train? Learn to read? Start pre-school? Start school? Learn Chinese? Go to college? (And, amusingly, these next questions move to Later/Slower/More deliberately) Get married? Have kids? Retire? 

If people could figure out a way to make death a competition, I’m sure they would. 

People compare kids' schedules, sleep habits, bowel habits, when they walk, when they talk... you name it, someone has a kid that does it better/faster/louder/earlier than yours. However, YOUR baby will also be better/faster/louder/earlier than others. And truly, in the end, who gives a whit unless you're trying to get on the Olympic team or a spot on Jeopardy? 

No one can look at an adult... or even a 10-year old... and see who slept through the night at 5 weeks old or who slept in the family bed for 2 years. No one can point out the person who peed in the toilet at 18 months or wasn't able to do so until 3.5. 

I propose we do away with the Ultimate Competition Games for Newborns on Up and stay in the moment with the one in our arms, at our breasts. The babies don’t care if they eat food earlier, have a faster nursing session or can sign the Declaration of Independence at five months old; they do care that you are with them, looking into their eyes, chitty-chatting gobbledy-gook and kissing their squishy-fat cheeks. 

Our babies grow up so incredibly fast as it is. Letting them be babies, as different from each other as snowflakes, delighting in each milestone, disallowing scrutiny from family, friends or strangers… this one gift alone could, quite possibly, be the one that, when they are grown, evokes one thank you after another. Don’t we all want to be seen for who we really are? 

Ready? Set… Go!

Darren racing on the stationary bike. 

References (2)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    - Navelgazing Midwife Blog - Earlier/Faster/Better
  • Response
    - Navelgazing Midwife Blog - Earlier/Faster/Better

Reader Comments (6)


November 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

Amen Sister !!!

November 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKim

Totally- I don't know why people are always comparing their kids to others; I'm constantly getting questions about my 9 month-old as to what she's doing, then followed by.."well my baby...etc". Why can't we just talk about babies and children like they are individuals?

I think part of it is that it takes so long for kids to reach certain milestones...like talking, for instance. (so long for me because a month is a long time for me!) We just keep waiting and waiting...and then we're so proud when they get it! We just need to be encouraging to them, though, and not "brag" to others. Anyone ever see the "stuff white people like" about 'gifted children?' Hilarious.

November 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersara

Agreed. Very true! We have all experienced this as a child, parent, and adult...

November 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

"Our babies grow up so incredibly fast as it is. Letting them be babies, as different from each other as snowflakes, delighting in each milestone..."

So true, and such good advice. Lovely!

It is also funny how subjective some of these things are - a 7 lb baby is preferable to a beefy 10 lber to some people, while others find 10 much 'better' than 7. Nursing for 4 years is either a great achievement or life in hell and supremely weird...In the end, they all learn to walk and talk and wipe their own bottoms (we hope), and nobody goes off to college or the Navy still nursing.

November 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine

Alexandra didn't walk till she was 17 months old. I was getting these polite questions "How old is she" and when I would answer people would slowly turn away their heads and walk away from me. I know what they were thinking "Poor woman, poor baby, 17 montths old and still now walking, my son walked at 10 months". He he he, I kind of laughed at them because Alexandra learned to walk and run at the same time.

November 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermonika

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