Friday, January 18, 2013

Sneaky Milestones

Every parent watches for milestones in their child’s development. There are many obvious milestones, particularly with small babies: the first time they roll over, or sit up without help, or take those first tentative steps. Some milestones come a bit more gradually: learning to talk or read or ride a bike or use the toilet, or outgrowing a car seat or a high chair. Some of them are specific events, like the first day of school, or the first sleepover at a friend’s house, or senior prom, or going away to college. But there are many other milestones that are more subtle, but equally as powerful in reminding parents that their children are growing up. They’re the milestones that sneak up on you.

I hit one of those sneaky milestones the other day when my son and I came inside after playing in the snow. After I hung up my coat in the closet, instead of hanging my son’s parka on the hook when I usually put it, without thinking I grabbed another coat hanger and put his coat on it. As I was reaching to hang the hanger on the rod next to my own coat, it suddenly struck me: My son is grown-up enough that his clothes fit on adult-sized hangers.

There are other sneaky milestones that you often don’t think about until they’ve passed. Things like not having to hold your child’s hand in the parking lot because you can trust him to stay close to you. Not having to remind her to say please and thank you. Letting them play in the yard unsupervised. Leaving them in a room with an open box of crayons knowing you won’t come back to graffiti on the walls. Realizing that the subjects of their paintings are recognizable as people or animals or houses. These are the sneaky milestones that can easily slip past without notice. But they are still hallmarks of development, quiet proclamations that your child is growing up right in front of you.

My son is only three years old, but already I find myself looking back at his baby pictures and wondering where the time went. My mind boggles that in the short span of three years, he has transformed from a personality-less (but adorable) lump into an articulate, interesting, polite, smart young man.

Whose clothes fit onto adult-sized hangers. Wow.
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