when you go to the doctor for the first “i’m pregnant” trip, they load you up will all kinds of stuff – lists of medicine to avoid, cheaply made diaper bags advertising formula and an armload of magazines telling you everything you should worry about when becoming a parent – and which products to buy so that you can put your mind at ease. those magazines (“i read them for the ads!”) made their way to the bathroom and i stumbled upon an article that roused up thoughts.

the article was about having a preschool teacher as a resource for knowing if everything is on track with your kids. the thought that they see lots of kids and know what “normal” 3-year-old handwriting is “neat” or not. i’m all for such resources – i pick the brains of my kindergarten teacher and early intervention friends all the time.

but i come at it from the flip side. with H’s hearing loss we get analyzed and charted and developmentally screened all. the. time. last tuesday and wednesday we were asked the same developmental questions 3 times by different coordinators. now, they’re just doing the job. it’s all state funded programming and the state wants to know that they’re doing something worthwhile when they stop for a visit – i get it, it’s cool. the challenge is, however, knowing the difference between the average and what is “normal”.

it’s been explained to me that normal is actually quite large. and rarely is someone “average”. i think we should buy our first clue in all of this with the existance of a due date for pregnancy. it is normal to go 40 weeks before giving birth. “average” some would say. so we are each given a magical day when we should expect a little bundle of joy. however, someone did the math, and that law of average is one of the worst maths out there – it’s only, what? 3% of women that actually give birth on their due date? so the other 97% aren’t normal?

i think it’s all in our humanly (possibly more specifically american, but i need to perseverate on that further) nature to want to quantify things down to the exact detail. i understand that we want to have a general ballpark idea of what to expect, so that we can identify “not normal” when it appears. these numbers and tickings and readings are what helped H get his hearing loss identified at a young age, so there’s lots of room for thankfulness for it.

but is it worth the energy to worry away because the poor kid is waving hi but not saying “uh oh”? if he doesn’t have the sippy mastered by 8 months old, will the chance at a college education dissipatate into thin air? and what if, at 9 months, there’s still a lot of waking up at night? good bye athletic scholarship packge.

there are a lot of high strung parents in the world, but i’m prone to wonder, do we really have to ask why? we’ve been given benchmarks of averages that are so narrow and concise. but we should stop and breathe. the wide world of normal has lots of room for our kids to play. we might not hit a benchmark of 4 months, 2 weeks and 5 days, but our 6 month successes can still be right on track to a very healthy development. someone needs to hang THAT sign outside of the ped’s office.

really, it’s about the larger picture. if one of these targets isn’t met, is it doom? no. but if all of them in a singular catagory show needed signs of improvement, might we seek out some help? sure. besides, if every kid took their first steps on their birthday, why write it down in the baby book? why mark it as something special? why not just say, “well, that’s what he’s supposed to do” and then send him off to training for memorizing body parts or mimicing animal sounds?

ah, baby boot camp. just another great idea waiting to make its way into those prenatal magazines.

i’m glad i have such good, “normal” friends to walk me through this.

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