Developmental milestones were never my thing. When I think of "first words" or "first sentence" my mind draws a blank. I remember "first steps" because my mom told me I walked at 9 months, so I wanted to make sure I knew when my son did. He ended up walking at 10 months. My second son was a good 13-14 months before he walked, although he is quite the adventurous gymnast now.
My first son walked, but he was fearful of climbing. My second son climbed, but didn't bother walking. Aside from that "important" walking milestone, my second son met his physical and social "milestones" well before my first.
When I write out those annoyingly long surveys of "medical history" I cringe at the developmental milestone blanks because they remain blank. I was of the "just relax, since kids develop at their own pace" mindset.
But you know where that got me.
Yes, doctors frowned their disapproval when I could not write down the exact date my son uttered his first word. It didn't help that he was on all fours meowing like a cat or ignoring them completely.
When it was apparent that the Cat wasn't meeting the "traditional" milestones, I was concerned, but couldn't help being hurt when the doctors and teachers would chime "Why didn't you get him help earlier!?" especially as the red tape piled up such that I had tried to get help many months or years before.
On one hand, I wanted to let my child develop at his own pace.
On the other hand, I saw the panic. Other moms didn't approve of my son's behavior. His preschool teachers didn't approve of his behavior. The doctors said he must be severely disabled and would continue to be, especially since obviously we hadn't done anything yet. (And what is "anything" given that the insurance wouldn't pay for therapy anyway?) I didn't feel comfortable leaving him with babysitters or at something like a generic daycare in a store, gym, or public event.
Now? He is a second grader. He has quirks, but he is a second grader. He plays soccer on a "normal" team where none of the coaches know he has a "diagnosis." He reads at (or above) grade-level. His mathematical abilities are above grade-level. His language, enunciation, and facial expressions are all fine. He is not an ax murderer.
And then my second son. Oh, my second son. He is a social butterfly who believes he is a teenager. Nay, he is taking over the world. He is independent in ways that my first son is definitely not. When the Cat is hesitant, Splig jumps right in to "save" his older brother. "See, I can do it!"
But even my second son hasn't escaped the designation of "developmental delays." In his case, it is his speech. He enjoys his speech classes and doesn't see himself as "different" in any way. Even so, I don't remember many of his "firsts," probably because I was so consumed with trying to get things to work well with the Cat.
I wish I could say that the first time I felt "this is the school!" was when I stepped on the Cat's current campus. Yes, I get happy butterflies when I go there because the teachers have been so supportive, but I was exceptionally excited about the private school that later expelled him, too. When I stepped on that campus, I felt like it was a special community. It turned out that community was singular, just not in a way that meshed with the Cat. That experience hurt more than I can explain, but I am glad that for now we have a happy resolution.
The Cat's current school is excellent. I must hold my breath, though, because this week is "conference week," and with it our first "official" view into how the Cat has been doing in the second grade. We've already gotten the not-so-favorable report from the Spanish teacher, so my heart is tense in my chest.
I hope that filling out forms of developmental milestones is over for us, but if either boy ends up having more severe problems in the future, those blanks will need to be filled. And again, my mind will be empty, and I'll have to give gross estimates, all the while signaling to the evaluator that I must not have been attentive, or didn't care.
And in a way I don't care. Early diagnosis can help sometimes, but it can hurt other times. I am very worried about jumping at each little deviance, and comparisons of "firsts" are just that.
But finally finding a school and extra-curricular activities that mesh with the Cat? It is worth it that it wasn't our "first" try, because so far, it is the "first" time he's really been like a "normal" kid.
In June I wrote a no-edit stream-of-consciousness post based on a writing prompt from Writing Motherhood, which I subsequently reviewed here at Reviews from the Couch.
The above post was based on another writing-prompt, this time on "First Words and Other Firsts."
I am pleased to announce that YOU can write your own post on this topic and win a copy of Writing Motherhood!
When: RIGHT NOW, September 23
Your Task: Write a post based on the same prompt as i did above (see below for the whole prompt). Put the link to your post in the comment section of this post. I have also cross-posted this on The Karianna Spectrum. A comment on either cross-post (not both) will get you one entry. If you do not have your own blog, feel free to respond to the prompt right in the comments section - that will get you an entry. Lisa Garrigues, the author of Writing Motherhood, will respond to your posts and comments!
The Prompt: First Words and Other Firsts: Open any baby diary and you will find whole pages devoted to firsts: first smile, first words, first friends, first birthday. Why are firsts so significant? Because they represent a beginning. Because they push us beyond what is familiar and comfortable. Because they jolt us out of the numbness or everyday life and bring us back to our primitive selves when we saw a world through a child's eyes. Keeping in mind that first experiences do not end with babyhood, write about a first: the first day of kindergarten, the first day of college, the first grandchild. Or simply begin with the writing start "the first time" and write down the first thing that comes to mind.
What Can You Win? Why, your own copy of Writing Motherhood, of course! Tomorrow, September 24th, I'll pick a winner randomly from the submitted comments.
I look forward to reading your posts, and for virtually hosting Lisa Garrigues!
Congratulations RebekahC - you've won!