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On a daily basis, folks ask whether my son has taken his first step. Or they want to discuss the status of his mobility. I'm not super interested in dissecting the issue – because again, it isn't keeping me up at night. But people just keep on asking.
I get that most people are just curious, or want to be helpful. Still, I can't help but think about all the parents out there who are in my shoes. When your child hasn't reached a certain milestone, it's not necessarily something everyone would want to talk about with every person they come across.
Sometimes it's sensitive and upsetting. So, PSA time: Here are the things I wish people would stop saying or asking about my son, and what I wish they would say instead.
- "He isn't walking yet?" I hear this more or less rhetorical question a few times a day. It's like, if you see him crawling, then nope – he isn't walking. And the sky is blue, just in case you were wondering. Here's what I wish people would say instead: "Wow! Your baby's a fast crawler!" Because with so much practice, yup, he's a little speed demon. In a flash, he's up 10 stairs. The most important thing is that my little guy can get around, and efficiently – not necessarily how he does so.
- "What's on his knees? Does he have eczema?" Nope. His little knees are all calloused from crawling. I can't stop him if he wants to get down from my arms, even when we are outside. He'll just take off down the sidewalk, so I trail behind him. His knees get scraped up, and so do his feet. But he doesn't care! Meanwhile, I can't figure out why so many people comment about the way his legs look. Again, I get that many folks are trying to be helpful. I hear a lot of, "My son has eczema and this is what we do." Here's what I wish people would say instead: "Your son is so cute!" Because he is! Right down to his scuffed-up knees, which I love to kiss. One day, when he's walking, those scabs will heal. Until then – you go, little man!
- "Is he showing signs of taking a first step?" My honest answer to this oft-asked question is: I don't know! He walks around holding onto the furniture, and will walk around the room holding onto my hands. I guess those are signs. But he hasn't yet taken his first step alone. And I'm not psychic, so I don't know when it'll happen officially. Here's what I wish people would say instead: Nothing! I guess I'm kinda sick of talking about when he's going to take that first step. I'm not in any rush for him to walk.
- "He's so big to be crawling!" He is. It's true, and guess what? He's even bigger to be carrying everywhere. But anytime my arms start to cramp up, I try to remind myself that soon enough he won't want to be carried. He'll be running away from me, and I'll be chasing after him. In the meantime, I'm getting one heck of a bicep workout! Here's what I wish people would say instead: "Damn, your arm definition is sick!" I'd be all, "Thanks. If you hold my baby three times a week for an hour, you can get the same results."
- "My baby walked at this many months old." Whenever someone notices that my son isn't walking yet, they inevitably feel compelled to share when their child started walking. "Oh, so-and-so was 8 months old and he just took off!" Or, "My little guy walked on his first birthday! Swear, it was that day." I'm always interested in hearing about your kiddo, but I don't enjoy hearing you compare mine to yours. Here's what I wish people would say instead: "Babies walk when they are ready." Because they do! Just as they hit every other milestone.
- "I thought boys always walked earlier." Based on hearing so many other parents' stories, so did I. But my sweet little guy is taking his sweet time. This is kind of on-trend for him, as he didn't want to be born until the very last minute either. It seems my girls and my boy hit certain milestones around the same time, so maybe it has more to do with genetics than gender. Here's what I wish people would say instead: "Every child is different."
- "We went to a physical therapist and that really helped." I'm glad your child benefitted from therapy. Physical therapy is a great option, and if, in the future, I feel it's appropriate, I'll definitely reach out. But we aren't there yet because he continues to progress toward walking, and also, he is so mobile I can't remember the last time I sat down! Here's what I wish people would say instead: "You're a great mom."
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.