Taking Baby Steps

One of the reasons I love sports is that it’s a competition that measures one’s self against another. There is no greater equalizing ground than seeing how you stack up to your peers.

No one is ever perfect in it, which is why it’s so compelling. Hell, Mike Tyson got beat by Buster Douglas.

It’s a concept I’ve tried to quietly live – just be better than the people around you. That’s a feature I’d love to instill in my kid(s).

I’m finding out, however, that it’s difficult to have those ideas with an 11-month old. In fact, most of them are like a slap in the face. A slow-motion, cold fish, slap in the face.

When dropping my child off at day care this morning, there was another baby already in the room. Through Hi, how are you? How old is your kid? polite conversation with the parents, we had previously learned this other baby was born within a week of my daughter.

So how do you think I felt when I notice this kid walking across the room as I handed our still-crawling kid over to the day care lady?

That’s right. I felt like a schmuck.

baby-stepsOn the ensuing drive to work, I began thinking about how it was my fault that my kid wasn’t walking on her own yet. How I had failed her because daddy likes to move at 100 miles per hour and perhaps he didn’t spend an extra 20 minutes teaching her how to walk. How a Pack-and-Play or a barrier gate were preventing my kid from taking those first Neil Armstrong-esque steps.

My child was behind her peers because of me.

Already I was growing a complex and I haven’t even met future Kindergartner peers who can speak three languages and play two instruments, where I’m sure we’ll reward my kid for just coloring inside the lines.

(Side note: my child is perfectly healthy. This is not meant to offend anyone who might be dealing with larger problems than mine.)

Parents like to brag at dinner parties about their children because it makes them look better. Well, Jimmy is ranked in the 98th percentile in wiping his own ass.

You know where my kid ranked on her last pediatric visit three months ago? The 90th percentile. That’s right. Ninety.

In weight.

Yeah, she was porking out better than 90% of kids her age.

So, I felt a little ashamed then, too, because my kid takes after her parents. She enjoys food. Well, news flash little one: You’re going to have to work out a lot – just like your parents do – so you don’t feel as guilty about the extra cheese on your Whopper.

My wife reassured me that kids, especially now, learn at their own pace. To me, though, it sounds like we’re not engaging our child enough.

Is she smart? Yeah, I think so. She waves hello and goodbye. She knows what things are when you say them to her. She can tell you when she’s hungry (and not by crying). Of course, these are all things someone else’s eight-month old could be doing, but what do I know? I only have one of these things and she’s almost a year old.

Have you ever heard the phrase “He peaked in high school?” Not to suggest that this other baby is peaking right now because it would result in decades of disappointment for everyone in that family, but after a day of reflection, I’m fine with my kid being a tad behind another person during the infantile stages of life.

Based on my wife’s personality and my personality, I have a pretty good idea of how my kid will be wired. And that means she won’t stop at the fifth floor of a 10-story building with contentment.

So maybe she can’t walk just yet. Big deal.

It just means she’s got a brighter future ahead.


  1. She’s right, kids learn everything at different paces. We were obsessed with how Lukas stacked up when he was little, but with Annabelle we’ve learned to let it go. It’s a result of seeing him and his peers 6 years later. Every damn one of them knows how to walk, talk, and wipe their own ass now. Go figure. I could say ‘let it go’ but sounds like you have a good perspective, and I wouldn’t have listened to anyone who told me that back then. Just know that she will be better than fine because she has parents that care and love her.

    Great post.

  2. This is a fabulous post. Every time I see a kid my daughter’s age doing things Sienna isn’t yet doing I have to fight feelings of inadequacy, especially about my teaching methods. Your wife is dead on about kids developing at different paces and that’s something we need to remember. Your daughter’s already a star because her parents love her so much.

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