Back in July, I received some mail from My City’s Health Department. It was a milestone checklist of what my (at the time) 18 month old should be doing. We’d been receiving these check-ins from the city every six months or so since Ollie came home and I dutifully and proudly checked the boxes “YES” to things like social smiling and batting at toys and sent them in.
This 18 month one set me off a bit. Call me hormonal – I was pregnant, remember – but this particular form was very heavy on Gross Motor Skills, Ollie’s main shortfall.
Out of something like 40 skills, I was only able to check “YES” to two or three.
I moped about Ollie’s inability to walk yet, throw a ball, traverse stairs. I was melancholy since a week earlier, having spent time with two other toddlers his age, Ollie was only able to watch them from his stroller at their walking and talking. I was irritated at the My City’s Health Department for badgering me about these delays and in a fit of having-a-preemie-sucks, I wrote a note.
I filled the questionnaire in and added on the back the specific details of Ollie’s early birth. Not just adjusted age vs actual age details, but heartbreaking NICU-based life-supporting details, too. Also added was the fact that he was at the time receiving four (underlined twice for emphasis) therapies to help him along and if there was some Miracle Cure My City had that no one knew about, please let me know. If there was no Miracle Cure, kindly stop sending me these questionnaires (underlined again) that on a good day, had the power to depress me, on a bad day could send me into a deep funk of hopelessness.
Clearly I filled it out on a bad day.
I received a phone call in the next few days from My City’s apologetic nurse. And she would stop sending me these questionnaires per my request.
I felt thisbig.
I sent her a Thank You Note, thanking her for her sensitivity in the matter. I let her know that Ollie was going to be a big brother in the coming months and looked forward to filling out these questionnaires in regards to Little Brother’s development. I invited her to visit this-here blog to stay in-the-know about Ollie’s progress. (If you’re still reading, Hi, Diana!)
Anyway. I never looked at another milestone checklist again.
Until yesterday when I found a 24-Month-Old Milestone Chart for Gross Motor Skills and get this:
Ollie can do everything on it!
- Walk alone – CHECK!
- Pull toys behind him – CHECK!
- Carry a large toy while walking – CHECK! (although generally this “large toy” is his potty chair)
- Stand on the tips of his toes – CHECK!
- Kick a ball – CHECK!
- Climb onto and off furniture – CHECK! (a new skill he’s ridiculously proud of himself for!)
- Walk up and down stairs, holding onto the railing, or your hand, for support – CHECK!
- Scribble spontaneously – CHECK!
- Turn containers over to empty out the contents – CHECK!
- Build a tower of four or more blocks – CHECK! (his tower building abilities are a-MAY-zing!)
Never have I been so excited to read a Typical Toddler Development Milestone Checklist!
I am so proud of my little boy. He’s so busy working hard to catch up, and he’s getting there!
I realize that sometimes I focus too intently on the things that Ollie doesn’t do yet. The delays and challenges he still experiences will get me down on bad days. My recent post about his speech lag is a clear view of a day that I wished Ollie would do more. Strangely, sometimes I sort of forget about his early birth, am less forgiving and want to stop giving him that excuse for his delays and start pushing him harder to be more like other kids.
But then there are days when I look at him and realize he’s making huge strides in catching up to his age-group in other ways. He’s been busy this boy, in other ways than figuring out eating or repeating things he shouldn’t have heard.
I not-so-often look back at pictures of his early days, those days when survival was all we hoped for, and I get it again. I get that while he may not be like other kids his age, but remember that he never was. His early days were terrifying in their reality, and instead of spending his first days snuggled and cuddled and passed around, he was on life-support.
It’s funny to think that I could “forget” that.