This was the title of my email from one of those developmental baby websites I joined when I was happily expecting 2 1/2 years ago. I could have sworn I directed all of those emails to my spam folder 18 months ago, but, for some unknown reason, they keep making it into my inbox. Usually, I delete the stubborn emails with lightning quick reflexes. That which I do not know cannot harm me. Today, though, I took a peak. What is my “23 month old, week 4” supposed to be doing? Well, here it is in all of its painful reality:
1) Your child may be learning as many as 10 new words a day now! Here are some of the language skills you can expect from your child by around age 2:
Forms 2-4 word sentences (“Bird fly high.”)
Follows simple instructions.
Uses pronouns, though not always correctly (“Me do it” instead of “Jake do it,” but probably not “I do it.”)
Repeats words heard in conversations.
Recognizes names of people, things, and parts of the body.
2) The way she holds her body and moves around has changed, too. The back-and-forth gait of a young toddler has evolved into a smoother, more coordinated stride. By their second birthday, most kids can pull toys behind them and carry things while they walk, and they will begin to run.
3) Kicks a ball; makes or copies lines or circles; walks up and down stairs; plays simple make believe games; follows two-step instructions such as “Pick up your shoes and put them in the closet.”
And much, much, more. Why did I do it? Curiosity (damn you!). Madeline’s delay, to me, is really only truly noticeable when I see other children her age. Well, if I’m being honest, it’s really noticeable when I see children younger than her doing what she cannot. Talking, walking, running, holding their own bottles, drinking from straws, using utensils, using their “pincher fingers” (which she has gotten much better at doing!), standing unassisted, putting puzzle pieces into puzzle boards, waving “bye bye,” and the list keeps going. Madeline is my first baby. Everything she does that is new is cause for a tremendous celebration. Her “inchstones” take longer to achieve than a typically-developing child. But, holy macaroni, the look of sheer elation on her face when she realizes that she can (and did!) do something new is truly Heaven on Earth. It is chicken soup for the soul.
Madeline’s pediatrician and I finally got on the same page at her 18-month well baby check. Either you stop asking me those routine developmental questions, or I find another pediatrician. Life is too short for my wonderfully made gift from above to be CONSTANTLY compared to whatever-the-freakedy-fuck NORMAL is supposed to be.
I would like to take this moment to reflect upon Madeline’s second year of life. To celebrate what she is doing now that she was not doing this time last year. She will be TWO one week from today. I simply cannot believe it. My baby girl is getting so big!
Madeline is pulling up with so much confidence and quickness these days. She can do it like it ain’t no thang. There is no stopping this girl from popping up any chance she gets. She progressed from needing two hands and some assistance to doing it one handed on pretty much any surface imaginable!
Oh, and before we got to the pulling up, Madeline conquered crawling! She started her first tentative steps towards crawling at 15 1/2 months. Now, we lovingly refer to her as “turbo” because she speedily dashes around the house. Sometimes, we even say, “Hey, how’d you get there so fast?!” Then, she has been working on her “bear crawl” in physical therapy. This has helped tremendously with her upper body strength. She has the most adorable baby biceps and triceps now.
Look at these baby muscles! She needs these strong arms to help when her legs are unsteady (which is often).
Socially and cognitively, Madeline has blossomed. She is incredibly smiley and vocal in her own way. It is so awesome to see her be attached and nurturing to her stuffed puppy, “Sophie.” She looks for “Sophie” for comfort and love. Many years ago, doctors thought individuals with lissencephaly were incapable of expressing the emotions of love and compassion. Madeline’s bond to “Sophie” is clearly evidence to the contrary.
Madeline’s smile. Her laugh. The way her whole body curls into the shape of her giggle when she’s excited. This form of nonverbal expression is my most favorite to witness. I devour each and every one of these exaggerated smiles with every ounce of my being. I have plastered the walls of my office with dozens of her smiley Goo pictures. She is that intoxicating to me.
In sum, my first instincts were spot on. Delete, delete, delete. Babies aren’t cookies. They aren’t made with cookie cutters. My sweet girl broke the mold in more ways than one. She will never been mainstream; she will never be the round peg; she will never be found in the pages of the textbook. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”