As a parent, I love milestones. First tooth. First steps. First day without diapers. Marking those life moments is just part of what parents do. Isn’t that what those baby books are all about?
Here’s my question: why do the big milestones stop after the first year? Have you ever tried to find a commemorative book to celebrate the major life moments after the first year? Sure, it’s fun when your baby stops doing that awkward army crawl thing to actually take a few steps, but what about that moment when your kid learns a word you don’t know? Or when you understand that your kid has more social skills than you’ll ever have?
I live for those moments, and even if the makers of baby books don’t memorialize them, I’ma celebrate them here. (Confidential to Hallmark: Call me. Let’s work up a business plan for baby books for toddlers and school-aged kids.)
Here are my top 5 milestones that no one else has ever mentioned:
- Siblings playing together. The date was June 8, 2013. The sun was gleaming through our kitchen window highlighting the crumbs on the floor, and Sadie and Simon started playing some game involving an empty water bottle, a skillet, and a Big Bird “action” figure. I watched the clock — 5 and then 10 and then 15 minutes went by and they were still playing in their own little world. They didn’t involve me or ask me to referee any squabbles. It’s as if I wasn’t there, and it was total bliss– like zero calorie free range chocolate covered Doritos bliss. It lasted for 37 minutes. To celebrate, I chopped an onion uninterrupted and then went pee pee solo. It was a perfect milestone.
- First joke. Any of us could be raising the next Seinfeld (without the horrible taste in clothes; see black jeans and white sneakers), so why not celebrate what might be the birth of your child’s comedic genius? This milestone was one of my favorite: Sadie made a joke, and she knew it. And it was actually funny. It was more shocking than that day I looked at her little belly and saw that her umbilical cord had fallen off. The joke? I can’t remember, but trust me, she’s the next Tina Fey.
- Sartorial mastery. What about the day your daughter learns that wearing a skirt with a dress is not the best use of clothing? What about the day she looks at you and says, “Maybe I won’t change my clothes seven times before dinner? Maybe just three times.” What about the first time your son lets you dress him in any old shirt and doesn’t clamor for something with Spiderman on it? There are so many milestones around clothing that I need a whole separate book for this category. But my all-time favorite milestone around clothing was when Sadie recognized Ann Taylor Loft from the highway.
- Music to my ears. I’ll admit it, I cried real tears during these two special moments. In the span of one week, both of my kids hit musical milestones that are still hard to talk about without choking up. On Monday, October 7, 2012 Sadie yelled, “I see Willie Nelson!” as we drove by a bus stop. Was it really the Red Headed Stranger from Abbott, Texas? No, but it was his doppelgänger– a man with two gray braids and a red bandana was waiting for the bus. It’s super hard not to brag about this. Then, three days later, we were listening to my new Johnny Cash-Willie Nelson album and Simon proved he knew the difference between Johnny and Willie. He summed up his opinion thusly: “Johnny is boring. I only like Willie.” I pulled the car over and gave him a hug and a lollipop.
- Gratitude: Lots of parents, including myself, chafe at the lack of gratitude for the hours we put in to the hard work of raising kids. Sure, I’ve taught my kids to say “please” and “thank you,” and roughly 15% of the time they actually do, but the evening that Sadie sat down at the dinner table and said, “Mom, thank you for this delicious dinner,” I almost fainted in my nachos. I mean, you hope you raise a child that understands the value of a dinner consisting of grated cheese over tortilla chips, but it may take years to know if you have. Again, I hate to brag, but I’m totally raising a little foodie who is not afraid to express praise and gratitude for my hard work (I mean, that cheese doesn’t melt itself and those chips don’t magically appear in a beautiful pinwheel pattern on a microwave-safe plate.)
What milestones are you celebrating?