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.