Mimi had her 18 month checkup last week. Poked and prodded, measured and compared, we got "the stats" from her pediatrician.
She's 80th percentile for height but 30th percentile for weight (Non-parents: that's pediatrician-speak for she's taller than 80% but heavier than 30% of toddlers her age). She should be speaking by two, but more specifically, she should be saying between 3 and 50 words.
Between 3 and 50?
That's right, folks. Quite a spread.
That "recommendation" or "guideline" is the embodiment of what the modern parent has to go through. No longer can children learn and grow at their own pace. They must be evaluated and charted and compared to their peers. But as if that wasn't enough, you're now telling me that she needs to say between 3 and 50 words. You know what that metric tells me? That you have no clue what normal is. We all worry that our children won't hit their developmental milestones, but now we also have to wonder what that milestone is. Is it 3 words? Or is it 50? Is a child who speaks 3 words any less "advanced" than once who speaks 50?
We as adults fight for our individuality and we acknowledge that we are all different and as unique as snowflakes on a winter morning. Why, then, do we seek to pigeon hole our children into these set molds and expectations?
She's too tall, she's too skinny, she shouldn't suck her thumb, she should be saying more.
Well I happen to think that she's not a statistical anomaly. She's an individual. She's Mimi. She'll do it as soon as she's ready and she'll be just fine. Because after all, she can't do it before she's ready.