Friday, August 8, 2008

I gave Allison a pencil and she sketched out a blueprint for the next Taj Mahal

I promised myself I wouldn't become the type of parent who brags incessantly about their kid, whipping out a photo at every inopportune moment and droning on and on about each milestone as if everyone in earshot is as interested as a grandparent.

I've discovered it's not so easy abiding by those rules, especially when Allison does something so endearing as feed the dog her Cheerios, but for the most part, I try to keep my stories brief and tell only the people I'm closest to.

The one rule I have managed to abide by, however, is avoiding one-upmanship.

I have a friend who constantly manages to outdo each anecdote I mention in passing. I don't think she does it intentionally and certainly not out of spite, but it proves that the urge to brag about your child starts at birth.

If I mention Allison finally, thank god, figured out how to roll over? Her son? Psh. He could be the star of a stop, drop and roll commercial.

If I mention Allison started saying Ma? Her son? He can recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

If I mention Allison got her first cold? Her son? Projectile vomiting in in the womb.

That last conversation was the one that put it into perspective for me. No matter what I say, she'll best it -- even if it's something negative. As I walked away, I couldn't help but think, shouldn't I have been the one saying, "Psh. Allison's almost NEVER sick."

The whole thing has provided a gentle reminder that as easy as it is to start comparing children and see where they fall on the developmental scale, what's the rush? They'll be ranked and scored and placed into categories their entire life -- in school, at the doctor's office, in sports and extracurricular activities. Maybe even at home among siblings.

So I've stopped worrying how Allison compares with other kids her age. As long as she's healthy, happy, curious and willing to try new things, why feel pressure to go at someone else's pace? I've put away the textbooks, stopped scouring child development websites and just started concentrating on helping her take each day at a time. When she's ready to walk, she will. And that's good enough for me.

In the meantime, I'm making a conscious effort not to follow up with Allison's latest conquest every time my friend mentions her son's achievements.

If she says his son is standing? I congratulate her and joke that it's almost time to buy some stock in Band-Aid.

But there is a small part of me that wants to respond with something completely outrageous.

Like, "Really? That's nothing. This morning Allison mowed the lawn."


Marcy said...

I've found this is kind of an odd line to try to tread. I'll want to ask questions of other moms to get an idea of what's "normal" for babies a certain age or just to make conversation, but then I worry about it sounding like I'm trying to compare our kids. I dunno, I may be oversensitive about it, I just don't want to come across as one of those moms...

mhale said...

That sounds perfect - I am so glad you have such a balanced viewpoint! My mother had much the same attitude - she would teach us just as fast as we could learn. For me, that meant really quickly in letters and numbers, and really slow in cutting and pasting/coloring....

And please feel free to tell us on the internet your stories - we won't feel one-upped!

Anonymous said...

Pfft. Your baby can mow the lawn?
Well, my baby weiner dog pulls me around in a wagon, only -after- trimming all the branches on the apple tree. It's his reward.

Jennifer Suarez said...

I have a friend who acts the same EXACT way. It annoyed me SO much that I rarely talk about my daughter to her anymore. In fact my daughter will be 2 years old in December and I can honestly say I'm barely friends with this woman anymore because of the way she has acted.

I think its so rude when people insist on one-upping and just like your friend, it didn't matter if it was good or bad. And when people are lame enough to one-up the bad... you know they have issues!

Timberly said...

Allison said Ma? What?

Erin in Scranton said...

Hey. Not to be a nervous nelly, but it is important to keep an eye on child development models as Allison grows. Making sure she's progressing with fine and gross motor skills, as well as socialization and problem-solving, may help you catch any developmental problems early. And that may mean the difference between getting her back on track quickly or having larger problems down the road. Allison's doctor can help you decide which benchmarks to look at.

That said, I think it's great that you're realizing that children are unique and that you can't compare one to another. You're such a great mom, Kelly.

Kristin said...

yeah, my dog mows the lawn too =P


the plainsman said...

Dang it all, I've got to mow my own lawn.

And better do it later today, before it begins to be compared unfavorably to the neighbors!

Well, I'll do it as soon as the cat finishes making my Taylor Ham, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich.

Anonymous said...

Aww, don't have Allison mowing the lawn yet. She'll have MANY years of wanting to earn money and helping you out...

Anonymous said...

I unfortunately also have a friend like this only their baby is 2 months younger than mine yet somehow their child is always more advanced. IT really gets frustrating. I understand your struggle to bite your tongue.

Ray said...

Haha! I loved the title of this post. =) And good of you not to worry about how Allison pans things out compared to the other babies. You said it write, as long as she's healthy and happy, that's all that matters. Remember that as well in the long run when she get's older. When she has moments when she's feeling down about herself, for whatever reason.

Take, care.