Three childhood milestones you won’t read about in parenting books.
When you have a baby, there is much talk of developmental milestones. When will your little munchkin sit up, smile, walk and talk, read and write? But what about those unspoken milestones that you don’t read about in parenting books? Here are my top three.
1. Leaving them alone in the bath for the first time.
I bet all parents can remember their baby’s first bath. For us, it was like trying bathe a greased octopus that had just learnt the Fandango. Then you get the hang of it, but you NEVER leave your child unattended. Never.
Until suddenly you do. They are old enough to happily splash about on their own while you do a light touch of tidying, start prepping for dinner or *shock horror* sit down and read a snippet of your book.
I remember the first time, standing outside the door with my heart racing. Then popping back in just to check. It is a magic moment, my child taking steps towards an independent life. Now my son is almost six he can undress and get in and out the bath by himself. Though I still have to run and check if he has been quiet for more than a millisecond.
2. Getting rid of the buggy/stroller/pushchair
For the first few years, your stroller becomes an integral part of your family, much like a treasured golden lab or favourite uncle. When my son was a baby, I would strap him in and go for long beautiful walks along the Manly Scenic path while he napped. I would have the metric ton of kit needed for a small child to survive outside of the home in his nappy bag slung over the handles leaving me free and unencumbered. It took us to and from friends houses, baby yoga, doctors appointments, cafe catch-ups and everywhere in between.
When he hit the terrible twos, which he hit hard at 18 months and took years to grow out of, the buggy was sometimes used as a threat. ‘Either you come away from the playground now, or I’ll put you in the buggy.’
But as time went on I noticed his knees were poking up higher and higher and I could see other kids his age walking everywhere. I started thinking, ‘how old is too old for a buggy.’ It was the only time I was jealous of those with a second child because while the baby got the seat, the older child would be able to stand on a marvellous kick-board thingo attached at the back.
Back in London, the walk to nursery would take 20 mins in the buggy but could take up to an hour without it, as every leaf, rusty nail and pavement grating had to be explored in great detail.
But we bit the bullet and stopped taking him out with the buggy. After getting used to having to carry my bag again, and once The Boy started walking a bit faster, it all seems so much easier. Now I can’t imagine why I was reluctant to let it go. Embrace a buggy free life I say.
3. When they make you a cup of tea and bring it to you in bed.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, this is a real thing. Now with a five and three-quarters-year-old, I am yet to hit this marvellous milestone, but I have friends (like Audrey Meade) with older children who tell me this happens on a regular basis. I have even seen photographic evidence. At the moment, though, the thought of The Boy operating the kettle without a major scalding incident seems impossible.
While I know it isn’t great to wish my son’s childhood away, well except for the boring bits, I long for this milestone. I love a cuppa in bed.
Have you experienced any other childhood milestones they don’t write about in parenting books?