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  • “Reduced the number of night wakings and duration of them.”
    Jenny C, Durham, NC / mom to 24 month old daughter

    Why Children Are Like Leaves

    Why Children Are Like Leaves

    Have you ever seen a tree in the winter completely bare of all its leaves except for one stubborn hold-out who waves its redness defiantly in the wind? A leaf won’t fall off a tree until it is ready. There has to be that perfect combination of the external force of the wind and the internal condition of the leaf stem for it to let go. Until those mysterious critical masses are met, it holds on. It isn’t defective or delayed. It is just operating at its own unique pace. And then when everything is right it will fall, just like all of its brother and sister leaves, and move on to the next phase of its existence.

    Children are like leaves too. They don’t do things on our schedule. Their developmental milestones are somewhat of a mystery. Why does one child walk at ten months and another at fifteen months? Why does one baby never crawl, but then one day stands up and takes their first step? Why has my six year old son lost six of his baby teeth while his friend who is two months older not lost any at all? Is my son healthier or stronger than his friend? No, they are just on different internal schedules.

    It is very hard to not be inpatient when you have a baby, especially your first baby. You are anxious that everything be normal and on time. Please allow for me to save you some undue worry and frustration.  All of the developmental milestones like turning over, crawling, walking, the first tooth, weaning, sleeping through the night, potty training, etc. will come when your child is ready. There are ranges of normal. Don’t panic if your child is on the outer edge of that arc. Don’t compare him or her to your best friend’s baby or the other babies at the park. There are no prizes awarded for being the first to do anything. In the end, they all end up walking, talking and potty trained.

    I worried about all of those things and now in retrospect, I see that it was a waste of my maternal effort. I did all the right things and cared for my son in the way that I felt was best and still I couldn’t coax him to do things any sooner than he was ready.  I still keep this in mind today as I teach him to read. When I get frustrated at what seems to be his inability to distinguish short “i” sounds from short “e” sounds I remind myself that eventually, it will click. I just can’t force it. Just like that last leaf on the tree, it will all come in time, but at his time, not mine.

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    1. Pingback: Why children are like leaves | Mothering from Within

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