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Time is On My Side

Pros and Cons of Childhood Milestones

Jacqueline Fennington
MSN Class of 2010

(5/2012) Let’s get straight to it…

Pros: Isn’t it obvious? The biggest pro of children reaching milestones is simply the rewarding nature of watching your child develop into his or her own person. Parents feel proud of their children when they accomplish even the little things like rolling over or clapping hands together. Imagine the feeling of that same child graduating with a college degree…wow!

Cons: Your child is growing up faster and faster each day, which can only mean one thing – you will have to parent an adolescent. When my sister was an adolescent, my mom received a comforting gift from her work friend that hangs in her office to this day. It was a ceramic plaque that said, "Raising A Teenager Is Like Nailing Jello To A Tree."

Try not to take my negativity the wrong way. I am simply facing reality. Let’s just say that during my teenage years, my parents were not my favorite people (sorry Mom and Dad – I love you both and hope you take this with humor rather than offense). I loved my parents very much, but I was experiencing what most human beings do during that time, which meant I did not get along with my parents. It happens to every kid – when you become an adolescent you start feeling out the terms of independence, which sometimes result in – dun, dun, dun… – rebellion! Let’s hope Lucy takes on her father’s side of becoming independent without the rebellion part, though I think we are inevitably doomed because adolescence seems naturally worse for girls.

Lucy has recently accomplished many milestones. She officially reached the high point of teething with the emergence of her first tooth! What seemed like immediately following, Lucy’s second tooth popped through, giving her a beautiful pair of pearly whites on her bottom gum. Babies usually react to teething with extreme fussiness, drooling, gnawing at anything (in Lucy’s case, my chin – ouch), minor diaper rashes and other symptoms dependent on each baby’s coping methods. When I saw that Lucy’s first tooth broke through her gums, I could not believe it. I did a double take and felt her gums for solid tooth evidence to be sure it was really there. Sure enough, it was there!

Breaking the gum is the worst part of teething and Lucy never let on that she was going through such a painful experience. Though, that does explain why she tried to eat my face any chance she had. When I felt her tooth, I looked at my tough-skinned daughter in disbelief and let out these high-pitched screeches of joy that she got her first tooth. She responded to my wacky mom pride with her usual flailing arms, big smiles and encouraging laughs. If I ever want to make Lucy laugh, I know I will succeed if I jump around with screams of joy.

I will probably jinx myself by publicizing Lucy’s incredible coping method with teething and we will start spending endless nights awake with the ever popular screaming and incurable pain of teething. If we do start disrupting our wonderfully peaceful 7:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. schedule with waking teething woes, the only thing I will be upset about is the pain Lucy feels from teething. Lucy has been the most wonderful baby that she deserves to give her parents some late night troubles here and there. I might regret saying that.

Milestone development can make parents feel a bit competitive. We see baby so close to doing something new, so we position baby to set her up for success. This never works. She will only roll back over to the same spot, stay still and do nothing or yell because you just made her uncomfortable. This is when you realize you are being too competitive and must let baby do things on her own terms. In the weekly updates I receive from an official baby website, I read about specific milestones and what to expect along with a ‘disclaimer’ that reminds parents, "Every baby develops at his or her own pace and if you’re baby does not roll from belly to back and back to belly by six months, do not be concerned."

Sure enough, Lucy waits until a week after her six month check-up (or any milestone check-up) to do what other babies her age "usually accomplish." Of course, she first performs for her dad right on cue when I am conveniently not in the room. Then when I go to the milestone doctor’s visit without dad and they ask me if Lucy did such-and-such milestone, I say, "Well, yes, but I have yet to witness it." The doctor innocently notes something on her clipboard and continues on with the visit. An hour later we return home and Lucy successfully accomplishes the milestone in my presence with a grin on her face. "Gotcha, Mom!"

Lucy’s incredible coping mechanism with teething thus far gives me high hopes for her adolescent years. However, after Lucy’s recent milestone development, she began to develop some ‘sass’ in her attitude with the classic high-pitched sighs of disgust. At Lucy’s age, these ‘disgust sighs’ are hilarious since they are delivered without words. We can only imagine what she would be saying and it would probably be something along the lines of, "What is taking so long to heat that darn bottle? Can you at least give me that teething ring to keep me satisfied while I wait? Oh wait, I found my thumb…we’re good for five minutes." And the sass is gone. Come Lucy’s adolescent years, that sass will be followed with, "Are you serious, Mom?" and "Oh my gosh that is SO ridiculous!"

Luckily for us we have a long ways to go before Lucy’s adolescent years. For now we can continue to make Lucy happy with simple things like silly dancing, clapping hands and tickling. Every day Lucy surprises us with something new and every day I find myself loving Lucy more than I thought possible. These little everyday moments make me the proudest mother.

Read other articles by Jacqueline Quillen