We spend half our time as parents panicking that our children are NOT doing what the books say what they should…
Do we need that pressure, that fear of failure as parents? That our children do not check a box in a small red book?
Leo is my only child so raising him has been entirely trial and error.
I recall the only way I knew if he was progressing as he was expected to was comparing him to other babies (don’t do it, it will make you anxious) or Googling (don’t do it, it will make you anxious) or on the sporadic occasions when we saw a health visitor.
She would put the fear of god into me as he was always siting on the 25th percentile in weight. Pre baby I was a size 4 (now my thigh is the same size as my waist used to be) and his dad is also very slender, but her frown would make me go home and panic feed him porridge and every other carbohydrate in the cupboard.
Because he didn’t feel like talking in his two year review she casually scribbled down ‘ possible speech delay’. Leaving the room in tears I felt like there was something I must have done wrong. The memory still stirs up sadness even though I now have a five year old that DOES NOT STOP TALKING and has a more extensive vocabulary than I do.
Somethings he did do like the books said i.e. We weaned at 6 months and he walked unaided about 10 months old. But my little cub did not get teeth until he was one. Apparently that’s pretty late. We affectionately nicknamed him gummy.
A friend had her daughter potty trained by 18 months, Leo was two and a half…
Every child will do things in his own unique way and on his own schedule.
For new parents; I think especially first-time parents there is a lot of anxiety about what should be happening. Of course we want to ensure our children are happy, healthy and if you are concerned please don’t feel afraid to go and ask for advice. It is also important to enjoy the time with our little mischiefs. Is more precious than gold. Important that we feel confidant, supported.
We don’t need any more kindling for the parental guilt fire. So with that in mind I concocted a bit of a parody guide for what milestones parents should look out for in each age and stage of their child’s growth.
TRUST YOURSELF AND YOUR INSTINCTS. You are a kick ass parent.
P.s I summarised what the books say…a lot! Also I found a shed loads of contradictions.
WHAT THE BOOKS SAY: Raising a baby, is both exciting and challenging. They form a special attachment to caregivers and grow and change at an astounding pace. In the first 12 months they will learn to support their own neck, roll, sit up then crawl. Babies communicate through babbling and hand gestures. They develop through play, touch and putting everything in their mouths. Peekaboo, stacking and sorting toys will be the favourite games.
WHAT JUNGLE MUMMY SAYS: The direct consequence of too many glasses of wine. Evolutionarily speaking, they are pretty useless but are the most precious thing in the world to parents and grandparents (the people who think your children are wonderful even though they’re sure you’re not raising them right.)
Main activities are crying, sleeping, feeding and pooing. This poo is almost supernatural in colour and quantity. Raspberries and screaming are the two primary forms of communication. Has no sense of responsibility. Sleep thief. The only age in life when cankles are adorable. Fascinated by shiny things. Tiny human beings with enormous heads that often look like Churchill. All clothes are required to have poppers. This is the stage where teething starts…buy shares in bonjella.
WHAT THE BOOKS SAY: It is a time for active exploration of their environment. Language development takes major leaps. ‘Meltdowns’ are a common emotional expression. Physically they are more coordinated; less likely to fall. A toddler can run and climb easily. They cannot share. Children of this age are less frustrated because they can make themselves more easily understood, but they do have almost no patience.
Toddlers are VERY energetic.
WHAT JUNGLE MUMMY SAYS: Child between the ages of 1 and 3 that is just beginning to walk.
Things go downhill from here.
You will spend the next year or so running after them trying to protect them from imminent danger. Obsessed by small pink, irritating pigs on TV and small bodies of water i.e. puddles. Should have to wear a sign saying beware ‘I bite’. Independence is demonstrated in the constant application at the word ‘NO’, screamed at an almost inaudible pitch.
Potty training will scar you for life.
WHAT THE BOOKS SAY: Expect rapid social and intellectual development. Parents should provide encouragement, support and guidance to prepare child for attendance at school. Boasting is common. Children this age are fascinated with body functions. They respond well to praise, rules and boundaries. Most can understand simple directions, may repeat ‘why’ question and can go from love to hate in a heartbeat.
WHAT JUNGLE MUMMY SAYS: Prone to selective hearing. Advise caution when leaving them in pairs as if they decide they want the same toy ‘kind hands’ will go out of the window. Mini dictators that love exaggeration. They start to ask difficult questions. Parent should purchase uniform two sizes too big. We get excited by the imminent prospect of freedom then sob uncontrollably at the school gates…
Five to eight year olds. What IS the name for children between pre-schoolers and tweens…half pints?
WHAT THE BOOKS SAY: School age children become gradually ready for more independence. However, learning to make good choices and exercise self-discipline is complicated. Children will place more emphasis on friendships and develop hobbies. Parents will juggle the tricky balance of giving more independence and yet still keeping a close eye on things.
WHAT JUNGLE MUMMY SAYS: You should never put a child this age wearing superman pyjamas in the top bunk. They seem to be in perpetual motion and will only eat food that is beige. You will need to download Pokémon go and buy them some sort of electronic device or the world may end. They get really curious about everything.
Not in books. New-fangled modern term of 10-12 year olds that grow into long-limbed and lanky versions of their child selves. Who Tv adverts focus on. Bad things happen if they run out of eyeshadow. Bieber fans.
WHAT THE BOOKS SAY: Adolescents present a challenge. Expect passive-aggressive behaviour, self-consciousness and self-doubt. Little understanding of risk or bank balance.
WHAT JUNGLE MUMMY SAYS: They frighten me. The school years will be THE WORST TIME of their lives, parents will inform unwilling ears they are THE BEST. A birds and the bees conversation will need to happen which will make everyone feel awkward.
So who knows best, parents or books?
Read the books if you like. Use them as coasters if you want. Want the best for your child but don’t let that want develop into fixation or fear. Let parenting be about CELEBRATION and the occasional glass of wine. For you not the underage ones.