Keeping up with the Lilys

Kids learn at their own pace.

Every child is different.

Don’t compare.

Some kids develop at different stages.

I know, I know. I’ve heard it all and said it all too. But I think it is nearly impossible not to compare kids. It isn’t about determining who’s kid is better, at least that’s not why I do it. And it doesn’t even start after the kid was born.

I recall asking my mom and every person I knew who had been pregnant before, “When did you first feel him kick?” “Did you have a lot of heartburn?” “How close to your due date did you go into labor?” My sister asked the same questions of me when she was pregnant with Charlie.

And after our little ones are born we engage in the comparison game again.

First smile, first steps, first words, how much she weighs, when he starts to walk, etc.

Lily, at 13 months and Miles at 10 months, was already several steps ahead of Miles.

Lily, at 13 months and Miles at 10 months, was already several steps ahead of Miles.

One of my best friend’s has a daughter, Lily, who is to the day three months older than Miles. So comparing the two is WAY TOO easy. And this girl is kind of a genius. She wasn’t even 2 yet and she could count to 10 in English and Spanish and she knew her colors forwards and backwards.

I didn’t know these things because my friend was bragging about his genius daughter. Actually I had to drag the info out of them. I was the one asking, “So, what’s Lily up to these days?” “Has Lily started to do X or Y?”

He would shyly answer, “Well we are going to have to limit the ‘Dora’ time because the other day she was counting my toes in Spanish.” Or, we would be “facetiming” (video chatting) and I’d see her in the background clearly pronouncing the colors on her ring stacker while Miles struggled to even get the rings put on properly.

Miles and Lily comparing notes themselves, I'm sure about our parenting skills.

Miles and Lily comparing notes themselves, I’m sure about our parenting skills.

And comparisons didn’t stop with just Lily. Several of my friends and family have kids and it is hard not to compare Miles to them. Again, it wasn’t about determining that Miles was the best; I wasn’t trying to win. I was trying to make sure Miles was “normal,” that he was developing fine.

And when I realized that normalcy was what I was seeking it was the incentive I needed to stop (or at least chill out) with the comparing. I don’t know if I’ve ever been “normal.” I was raised by hippies, went to Haiti at the age of 14, spent a year in Bangladesh in the Peace Corps, cloth diaper my kid, move about once a year, have my own “clean and whole food/cupcake obsession and am a reporter. It is fair to say normal isn’t really a part of my vocabulary.

So why should I expect my little guy to be normal. And is that what I am striving for him to be? No way. I want Miles to be as unique and special as he wants to be.

It is a tough journey and it is safe to say that I am still going to catch myself saying, “So, has Lily started to do…” But at the end of the day I have accepted the fact that normal isn’t what I want or expect from Miles and will let him do things when he feels like it. I’m certainly still going to work and play with him as normal to help him develop those skills but I’m not going to fret about his schedule.

P.S. He can count six dinosaurs and knows his colors when he feels like these days. Also Lily, his future wife, is a brilliant, unique and special gal too!

How do you keep yourself from comparing your little ones to other kids or even their siblings?

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