Thursday, January 18, 2007
The Hidden Milestones
When I was a new mother, a wise mom once told me to pay attention to the Invisible Milestones. Of course, we all wait excitedly for the regular milestones - baby's first words and first steps, the first book they read, the first time they take the car keys. But the Invisible Milestones are not the "firsts" but the "lasts". The last time they crawl, nurse, sit on your lap without squashing you flat.
I've been thinking about this a lot lately because my daughter still uses those cute turns of phrase that only a child's creative mind will come up with. She was telling a friend about horseback riding the other day, and mentioned that Annie, the first horse she rode, was her "starter horse". The pancake at the bottom of the stack is the "under pancake", and when she turned her ankle for the umpteenth time recently, she wailed "I have flimsy feet!".
I guess as children grow, their brains naturally mimic the speech patterns around them instead of inventing them from scratch. But a seven year old is still in the zone of the fresh observation, a seven year old doesn't know a cliche. Just a few short years older, my son at ten rarely does this anymore, and when he does, I treasure it. So I saved a message from him on my cell phone where he called and told me there was a "jumpy surprise" waiting at home (he and my husband had put up our trampoline while A. and I were out) and I remember with fondness how he used to ask me to "unpeel" a banana, and the opposite of "upside down" was of course "upside up".
Just knowing that the hidden milestones, the "lasts" exist is enough to pay conscious attention to the children that I have here, today. They won't be here tomorrow, tomorrow they will be slightly older, different. Tomorrow they might peel a banana, instead of unpeeling it.