Tuesday, 25 October 2016
How to cope when your child is a 'slow developer'
Sweet child, I nurtured you in my womb for almost a year. Every day I dreamed of you, how beautiful your smile would be, how wonderful it would feel to have your tiny fingers wrap themselves around mine and how overwhelmed I would be to hear your voice call 'mama'.
At no point during my dreaming did I think you would sit stubbornly, cute as an angel, and refuse to so much as roll onto your side for the first 8 months of your life. Rude awakening for naive new mum number 1.
I get it though, you will do things in your own time sweet darling. When you are good and ready, I have come to terms with it, so has your dad, but how do we navigate those difficult situations when other people don't seem to be ok with your developmental timeline? Here are some awkward situations and how to deal with them:
1: Baby groups
You are a new mum, armed with leaflets from every baby group in the county and with a schedule rivalled only by that of the military, you are ready to explore with your baby. You will make new mummy friends and go for coffee after the session while your children play peacefully and allow you to drink your beverages at your leisure.
The truth is, when you have the slow baby, people will attack you with a plethora of well intended punches to the gut.
'Oh bless him, he'll get there'
'Oh look how hard he's trying'
'Perhaps he just likes being carried everywhere instead of going on his own'
'Well you know, some babies just don't master these things until much later'
At first I would all but die at these comments, explaining away my child's lack of movement with more and more ridiculous excuses; he's teething' he just woke up, he needs a nap, he's hungry, he just ate, etc etc.
Mum, please stop. Don't explain your child to anyone, if you are genuinely concerned go to your GP or health visitor but DO NOT feel the need to explain why your child is different. Just smile, say 'thanks I'm sure we'll get there eventually' and try to hold the panic explosion for family or friends.
2. Family gatherings
Aunties, uncles, cousins and 'the older generation' will try to entice your child to move, each believing that they have the secret answer to unlocking crawling for your child. When exhausted/frustrated/borderline annoyed that they have failed, they will inevitably look to you and say, 'Ah well, plenty of time, how old is he now?'
Oh, the horror that can be seen in their eyes when you calmly say 'he's 8 months'. They try to hide their shock, act as though they think it's normal when you can see they are thinking your kid is broken.
At first, I would have a little quiver in my voice and queue the excuses from me to explain that my child is normal. It's embarrassing for everyone involved, and while your little cherub dribbles, hiccoughs and falls over onto his side where he will stay because he has no strategy to get up, you just want the Earth to swallow you whole. This was NOT in the plan when you decided to start your family. WTF is happening? What did you do wrong?
You did nothing wrong mummy, the world is shit and people judge but the truth is, at your child's 1 year review crawling is not even something that the child should be able to do, it's just a bonus. Calm down, he'll move, and when he does you will lament the days you could put him down and trust he would still be there when you returned from the toilet.
3. Play dates with mummy friends
You have been friends with these women for years, you know and trust them implicitly. Then, one day, when it becomes apparent that their child is developing faster than yours in one area or another, you see it. The air of superiority, and the condescension kicks in. Stay calm mummy, do not, as I very nearly did, ask if your friend thinks her little girl will ever grow into that nose. Simply talk about the things your child can do and how excited you are for the future, and if she doesn't drop it then drop her. It's not worth it.
Your baby is amazing, HE WILL GET THERE! And if he doesn't, well, there are more ways than one to be extraordinary.
I hope this post finds you well and, if not, I hope it has left you better
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