Wednesday 17 August 2011

Growing up

Milestones, they call them. Developmental milestones.

The system* would have you believe that they are to be reached at a specific time by children who are developing at the normal pace. I've come to think of the whole thing like the A1 north-bound - everyone is pushing on in the same direction, but in reality, we'll not all reach Newcastle at the same time.

Most of us are travelling by car on or around the speed limit - we're hitting Newark and our first words as and when we should. But as it's an A road and not a motorway, all kinds of other traffic is allowed to travel our path too. You get tractors - steady and strong - classic motor cars which perhaps don't have more than 4 gears but are intolerably beautiful, not to mention the occasional and eccentric horse and cart. They won't get there as quickly as the rest of us but as its the destination that matters and not the journey time, it isn't really an issue.


People get competitive. We seem to be conditioned to treat all of these milestones as markers in a race. Daughter didn't smile until she was 8 weeks - 2 weeks older than most babies. Friend's toddler didn't gain weight as fast as expected which caused health bods to worry and question his development.

Things seem to have to happen to kids so quickly - they have to sleep in their own bed from day one, be away from Mummy from the time she's ready to go back to work, and learn to smile, to talk, to crawl all according to some sort of magical calendar. When we panic if our children don't reach these milestones at the same time - if not faster - than they're supposed to, is it any wonder they're growing up too quickly? We're competitive, so we push our children forwards in an effort to say to the world, 'We are better. Our child is better.'

Just a thought...

*I'm not one of these 'fight the system' morons, I just don't know what else to call the... thing (well, system) that our growing kids are supposed to adhere to.

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