Want to know if your baby is going to achieve better than a 3.25 GPA during his junior year in college? You can extrapolate that by calculating how many days plus or minus 3.25 months old he was able to roll to his tummy from his back. The internet has it all figured out, don’t you fret. But knowing where your kid stands is only half the picture. What about your own milestones? Have development experts figured out when exactly you overcome the aversion to licking your thumb to wipe that crusty toothpaste from the corner of your son's mouth as you drop him off at school? Science has left us parents to benchmark these milestones on our own, apparently. So with graph paper in hand, here goes.
Babycenter, take notice. I'm going to get the ball rolling. Take over whenever you'd like.
PARENT DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES
What a time of discovery! As your child begins to make sense of his world, his own senses will become more acute. He will even begin to hear his own crying. That's fascinating for him! It drives everyone else crazy - except for you because nature equipped you with the Bose effect. A parent's ability to tune out the frequency of their own child's prolonged wailing in the car or at Target is an evolutionary wonder. Or maybe it's a symptom of waking up at 3:30 a.m. Research still pending...
Dexterity is another wondrous new skill that marks this stage of your life. Your new parent fingers can now confidently cradle all sorts of things, namely squishy, runny, warm ones to the nearest trash can, or out the car window. In rudimentary stages of development, you may bring your fingers up to your nose in curiosity afterwards, but you soon learn that some things are better left conveniently smeared on your jeans and forgotten. Don’t think this is a skill? A Crossfit guy can roll a monster truck tire 50 yards without puking. Have him try this with a travel-sized Kleenex filled with four ounces of chunky fresh spit-up. Paleo lunch cleanup in aisle four.
In her first year, as your child begins to develop an understanding of words and language, reading to her helps her understand the complexities of this essential life skill. What she doesn't yet understand are the complexities of the Dexter plot that’s starting in 3 minutes, so your parental brain develops the amazing workaround of making up shorter sentences, or changing the story entirely as you flip through the pages really fast.
Your little one is becoming so mobile! As he starts exploring his world, he will step in, pick up and smear everything. It’s about this time that you’ll notice yourself digging deeper into that Starbucks napkin dispenser to grab a fat stack of paper. You will use one and jam the rest of that pile into your glove box. Daily. You will also find yourself strategically placing wipes containers where you live, work and play. Squirrels do this with acorns.
Just as spawning salmon are able to navigate winding tributaries using some kind of magnetic magic or whatever to get to their spawning grounds, you will also develop an innate skill that will enable you to navigate through your environment. The collective knowledge of every public restroom with a decent changing table will somehow be imprinted in your brain like a Borg Thomas Guide and your travels will hopscotch with the efficiency that only nature could have masterminded. Also, changing a baby on your lap once is like getting grazed by a grizzly claw. You never forget that.
Fairies, scary bears, firefighters or superheroes. Your toddler is starting to understand the concept of pretend. You’ll notice that you will also naturally transition into pretend mode as you play dress up, cars, or whatever the fantasy of the day might be. Your newfound ability to pretend really shines when it comes to music. “YAY! Let’s listen to the Frozen song, AGAIN! YAY!” you’ll say with nary a tinge of disingenuity. You will be tested, however. His name is Calliou. You will want to erase him with the cheap eraser that rips the paper he’s drawn on. Let it go. Let it go…
Your child is growing bigger and stronger! She can run, jump and frolic. It seems like every time you turn around, she grows another inch. Well, did you know that you too are growing stronger? It may not manifest itself on a growth chart, but your strength is in your footing, literally. You’ve been stepping on errant Legos and plastic jewelry for quite some time now and you’ve developed a pain tolerance that Amazonian shamans envy. When one of your younger parent friends steps on a Lego and shrieks in pain, you will enjoy stomping on it, bringing your foot up, plucking the brick out of the deep indent in your foot, and placing it gently into your friend’s palm.
A child’s developing palate is a thing of wonder. Too bad most kids won’t acquire a taste for nuclear hot wings for a couple more life stages. That’s ok. By this stage in your own development, your palate has adapted to accommodate your body’s need to efficiently turn leftover kids’ meals into fuel for the body. The half eaten chicken nuggets, cold mac and cheese, oatmeal with two bites taken out of it, and PBJ sandwich crusts that would turn a young man’s stomach are now simply your way of cleaning up, fueling up and saving for college tuition.
It’s amazing to watch your child’s social skills come into full bloom at this stage. She learns to make friends, share toys, take turns and hone all the skills that will be essential for success later in life. Essential for everything except birthday parties, that is. There’s nothing that prepares you for the social agony that is a birthday party you have to attend with your kid. Luckily, your ability to numb the pain kicks in naturally around the time you attend your first one. With the instinct of a predator, you will locate the one lame gazelle in the pack. He is usually wearing a fanny pack. You will randomly glance at him and think “at least I’m not that guy” throughout the party to make yourself feel better. Your brain will also hyper-focus on your child to make every goldfish cracker eaten, every piñata whiff, and every facepaint whisker a thing of amazement and wonder. You will take pictures. You will say “that IS a frosting flower on that cupcake! That’s so awesome!” When you see parents hovering alongside their kids at a birthday party, it’s not for safety. They’re just trying not to go insane with boredom, or worse, engage in forced kid-party socialization with other miserable parents. And they never serve beer.
As children enter this stage in their development, they are making the transition from childhood to adolescence. Many psychological and physiological changes are occurring at this time, which may make it difficult to make certain choices. Clothing and music, being the two of them. This is a hotly contested theory because the other school of developmental thought postulates that it is the parents who lose their ability to recognize, buy or understand what good clothes and music are. Whichever one holds true, our advice is if you avoid Hot Topic, most crises arising out of this life stage can be averted.
And that brings us to puberty and teenagers. We’re going to need a lot more graph paper and Febreeze for this. Science can wait.