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8 Underrated Kid Milestones

8 Underrated Kid Milestones

Every child hits these "other" milestones sooner or later. But nobody talks about them--so we are!

We wait expectantly for all the misty watercolored memories of childhood: first smile, first steps, first day of kindergarten.  Those are the “awww” firsts. But what about the “huh?!” firsts? Experienced parents know them well. These magical moments probably won’t make your Facebook page, but they too are signs your baby is growing up. Grab the tissues…and brace yourself!

1. Your Baby’s First drama-free drop off

Since she started daycare, drop off has been a stressful screech fest. Day after day, you pried her off your legs and headed to work with your heart breaking. Then one morning, you put her down, turn to the teacher to give her the usual distraction high sign, and…wait, where is she? Is that your child, smiling with that little redheaded boy in the book nook? The teacher, practically giddy, urgently whispers “Just go!” So you do. And she doesn’t even notice. What the heck just happened? It’s good…you think. But somehow your heart is still breaking as you head to work.

2. Your Baby’s First “H+&lY S*@t!!”

He’s tracking your every word in an effort to acquire advanced language—and, as you like to tell yourself, to be just like you. Naturally, he practices by imitating you. So adorable! Until a curse word slips out. This will happen in front of your most self-righteous mom friend. Or, your mother in law. And you’re thinking exactly the same thing. H+&lY S*@t.

3. Your Baby’s First try at chores

Oh, how we parents look forward to the day when the kids are old enough to help us. This thought is what keeps us going when the sink can no longer contain the dirty dishes and the bathroom floor is invisible under damp towels. And then one day, you hear a small voice say, “I help.” Then, when your face shows a flicker of hesitation, “MAMA I HEEELLLLLLLLPPP!”  You finally have that assistant, you do, “helping” you stir pancake batter, “sweep” the floor, “fold” the laundry, and so on. And with that “help,” your workload has increased tenfold.

4. Your Baby’s First fib

You, of course, have always taught them the importance of honesty. And the whole “treat others the way you’d like to be treated” thing seemed to have sunk in nicely. Until you hear a crash…or the kitten wail in distress…or something that just doesn’t sound right. You rush in, and there stands your little angel, next to a broken picture frame, a wild-eyed Mittens confined to a waste basket, or that thing that was, in fact, not right. “I didn’t do it!” she blurts out. You pause. Did she just lie? To you? Yes. Yes she did.

5. Your Baby’s First fright-free night.

It’s quiet all night: That’s because she has learned to talk herself down when she has a nightmare, or thinks she’s about to be the victim of an alien abduction. A month or so will pass, and you’ll realize it's been a while since she came into the bedroom at 3 a.m., still shaking at the mental image of Bigfoot driving the family car. She doesn’t need mommy or daddy to comfort her anymore, a realization that inspires both pride and melancholy. Try to focus on the former. You done good.

6. Your Baby’s First show of tattling—on you

Ah, the innocence of childhood. At no time is it displayed more distinctly than the first time he throws you under the bus. “You weren’t sick for Aunt Jackie’s jewelry party. We went to the beach, remember?” he says helpfully, right in front of Aunt Jackie. A perfect storm of anger, pride, guilt over the anger, and shame (he assumes you are a better person than you are!) washes over you. This one can really sting. Just take a deep breath and know it happens to all of us.

7. Your Baby’s First zinger

Your sweet mini-me, even strangers note, is polite and respectful. Sure, you’ve heard tell of how they talk back in their teens…but you wouldn’t be surprised if you lucked out and got humanity’s exception. And even if not, you assume you still have years before you have to worry about that.

If so, you’re in for quite a shock. 10-year-olds bark, “You’re not the boss of me!” Pie-eyed 9-year-olds point out, “I don’t tell you what to do, do I?” When the pizza delivery arrives, and you casually ask, “Want some pizza?” a wizened 11-year-old may snark, “No. I’m just going to watch everyone else eat it.”

Kids grow up fast these days, folks.

8. Your Baby’s First time holding down the fort

You're out of milk (again). As usual, you start to tear your tween off the couch to drag her, protesting, to the Creamery Barn with you. But this time, you think twice. Maybe you don’t need to bother. It’s tempting. If you go alone, you will return with milk, not milk, Oreos, Doritos, and cookie dough ice cream. So you go, reassuring her you’ll be back in 20 minutes, tops. Upon turning the corner, you promptly panic, fearing she’s too young, anything could happen, the neighbors will call the authorities. You rush back in, breathless, to find her watching a Youtube video, unaware you even left. You both survived the first time she was left home alone. It’s a marker of growing independence for her, greater freedom for you…and the latest in a growing mound of evidence that she doesn’t need you as much as she used to. Sigh. 

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Christina Vercelletto


 Christina Vercelletto is a former editor at NYMetroParents, ParentingScholastic Parent & Child, and Woman’s Day. She lives on Long Island with her kids, a chiweenie, Pickles, and a 20-pound calico, Chub-Chub.

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