After the baby and toddler years, it sure seems like milestones get fewer and farther between. I have to wonder if that’s just what the baby books with the pre-filled headings would have us think. “Baby’s First Tooth” and “Baby’s First Steps” are in every one of those things. What about the other good stuff? There are plenty of other big transitions in a child’s life to celebrate! Here are just five of those “soft milestones” I’m looking forward to:
- First Time Not Waking the Whole Blessed Household in the Morning. Your young child believes his body is a human alarm clock. If he’s awake, it must be time for everyone to get up! The most common methods for waking you include (a) mouth-breathing in your face, (b) jumping onto your full bladder, and (c) bombarding you with random, existential questions that have accumulated during the night. One day, he’ll just stop. You’ll wake up after your own sleep cycles end, finding him doing something you wish you’d been awake to thwart. But still.
- First Time Expending Energy to Forward Own Survival. Does your child still ask you to get her a drink or snack so as not to have to interrupt her own activities, such as watching television or lounging about in a cardboard box? Measure her arms. If they’re long and strong enough to reach behind to wipe her own butt, they’re long and strong enough to reach up to the water dispenser on the fridge and open the snack cabinet. And it will happen! This milestone can occur either naturally or with some
angry admonishmentsgentle guidance from you.
- First Time Caring about Not Smelling Like an Old Fishbowl. Most young children are quite tolerant of their own stank and will gladly forgo wiping, bathing, and daily clothing changes if permitted. One day you’ll be making your daughter cross her heart when she says she really washed her private parts (and not with hair conditioner), and the next she’ll be hogging the shower and using Axe Anarchy for Her Body Spray.
- First Time Not Dressing Like an Indigent Schizo Clown. It’s fun when kids start dressing themselves, isn’t it? But sometimes it makes you look like a poopy parent. There’s just something about Crocs-with-socks, a shirt two sizes too small, tights worn as pants, and a homemade hair-bow made of tomato tape that screams Mommy drinks! But one day the tides will turn, and you will know it by the angst-filled morning screams of, “Nothing in this closet FITS me! Aggggh!!! I HATE my life!”
- First Time Understanding that the Cat/Dog Hates That Sh**. Does your family dog get that please just euthanize me now look when your young child approaches? Does your cat emit a low growl whenever your preschooler talks? Someday that kid is going to put two and two together and realize that the family pet does not like being cruddled (crushed+cuddled), being transported in the Heimlich hold, having the tail of a toy dragged repeatedly across its face well after playtime has worn out, “fetching” balls that have been thrown less than two feet from where it was standing, or in any other way being demoralized.
Crawling, cruising, first words, lost teeth—these hard milestones are exciting, but I don’t know that they’re any more important than the soft ones. Maybe they’re just the changes that happen more suddenly, so they look more drastic. If you look for the softer ones, though? You’ll see that they’re everywhere. There’s probably one happening under your roof this month. What soft milestones are you looking forward to?
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