Being a parent comes with many lessons. You learn, for example, that smelling a child’s butt in public is not only okay, it’s necessary. And that when you miss the toddler sleep window, it will result in a full on, over-the-top meltdown worse than ever before.
But you also learn good things. About love, and being selfless. But my favorite lesson of all is something my 3.5 year old daughter has taught me.
There is no rush. None. It’s not a race. And our “one-size-fits-all” mentality of children learning everything at the exact same time, same pace, same speed, has just become too much. Because everyone, every adult, every child, is different.
From the moment our kids are born, they are forced onto a chart and compared. The pediatrician either compliments their weight gain and height, or looks at us with dissatisfied eyes and lectures us on them “not gaining enough weight” and “percentiles” and breastmilk and formula feeding and solids and………!
This is how it starts. And it’s great if there’s a genuine medical concern, but not when a baby is absolutely fine. Some children have smaller parents = smaller baby, or slimmer parents = slimmer baby. Do genetics not come into these things at all? Why are we forcing all babies onto the same chart?
As first time parents, these comparisons can play on our minds. We worry. And then we end up wondering- wait – why is their baby crawling and mine isn’t?
Why is her child walking and mine isn’t yet?
Why is he talking and mine isn’t yet?
Why is she writing and mine isn’t yet?
Why is she doing math and mine isn’t yet?
We all need to be reminded of this: when your child is ready, they will. They don’t need to be forced, as forcing often causes rebellion and makes things worse. Let them keep trying, let them practice. Let them not do it all and come to it, whatever it is, when they’re ready, and then you’ll see how easy it is for them to accomplish. And you’ll look back and think “What was I worried about?”
Back in August 2013, we bought my daughter a balance bike. She was turning 3 years old the next month, and I was SO excited, as I thought she would love it. I bought tassels and a pink basket for it, and a cute helmet. She opened her gift and yay! She loved it! So she tried it and….. she didn’t like it. I was the typical mother “Keep trying! You can totally do this!” Come on, it’s a balance bike, you’ve got to want to ride it! Nope. She did not.
September came. October. November. Nothing. Months went by. She’d pick it up sometimes, and try to ride it, but she decided it wasn’t for her. I almost gave it away thinking I’d just buy her a regular bike with training wheels.
Three weeks ago, April 2014, a whole EIGHT months of it lying in the backyard, she just picked it up and started walking around on it. “Mama, can we take it the the park please?” Sure, I said. In my heart, I didn’t get my hopes up. But she surprised me. She just…. went. Round and around she went on her bike, first walking, then running, and then lifting her feet up. She was actually balancing! It’s been about three weeks now, and she absolutely loves her bike. She begs to go out on it everyday! Who would have thought? Not me!
So, no matter what it is, sleeping through the night, their first words, potty training, learning the alphabet, writing their name, learning a new sport, whatever, remember: when they’re ready, they will. There’s no rush.