Sunday, October 28, 2007

Getting Sucked In

I have degrees in several flavors of Early Childhood Education. I am completely aware of the many variations of typical development and have a strong bias towards play based education. I don't believe in flash cards for the under 6 set. I don't believe in tutors for pre-school. I don't believe you really need to do much in the way of direct instruction to see a young child flourish. My developmental mantra is that "You don't teach teething, why would you teach the other stuff?" After all, teething and teeth are the only real bastions of sensible thought on early childhood development. You will occasionally hear a parent questioning if they should be concerned if their child has reached their 1st birthday without cutting a tooth but I have yet to see a toy aimed at teaching your child how to cut teeth faster. There are no vitamins or drops advertised to speed the process along. The acceptable range for cutting teeth allows for a comfortable margin of acceptability. Charlie started teething at 3.5 months and other children we know didn't even show a hint of teething until after 7 months and no one considered either child odd.

At the same time, I keep feeling myself getting sucked into the doubt that is seemingly integral to modern parenthood. Charlie has yet to really have a first word. He has a mighty clap at this point. We taught him to do that rather than crying for "more" and this may have slowed down his speech a touch. I know that it won't have any detrimental effect in the long run but I do worry that I "messed him up" in some way. He will say "woo woo" for anything with 4 legs. He can identify his head and mouth. He is perfectly within range of typical development and shows no sign of any communication delay but I worry. He has wonderful pre-verbal skills and is fabulously outgoing but I worry. I read about other children who walked sooner, are talking, are running, etc, etc and I worry. At baby gym, when the rest of the children can sit for the songs and Charlie simply can't/won't I worry even though I know it's not really a developmentally appropriate expectation.

I so want to just be able to let Charlie blossom in his own way and his own time. There is a time and a place for concern over development. I am well aware of those signposts and markers he really shouldn't miss and when to ask for help. So far, he hasn't shown a hint of delay. He changes so fast, it seems like as soon as I begin to wonder if he will manage to make the marker in a reasonable time or when I feel like he has been almost there for so very long, it happens. Charlie is very much a child who wakes up one morning and turns a corner. He will be soooo close for ages and then, boom, there it is, suddenly with accuracy and precision. Some of it is also that I spend so much time with him that I miss things. I become so entrenched in the day-to-day that I miss that he is passing objects back and forth or is crouching or making more distinct babbles. He has become simply who he is and I couldn't tell you exactly where he is in skill development any more than I notice the lengthening of the day. One day you simply wake up and realize it is light when it was dark and you know the days are longer. One day I looked at Charlie and realized that he no longer crawled at all, instead he walks. It all goes too fast to spend your time worrying but that seems to be all the world wants you to do.

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