My son is three years old and over three-and-a-half feet tall. That may be hard to picture – let me just say he’s tall for his age. He looks like a five-year-old and is often treated like one. The way I respond to those who think he is older is making me realize how much I care about other parent’s perceptions of the level of development of my child – which is admittedly weird.
I’d like to fancy myself as someone who doesn’t put too much credence into “milestones.” I think – barring any serious developmental delays – they may just put extra pressure on parents and children. Honestly, I can’t even remember when my first child did anything. I never made a baby book, I just thought I would remember all of that stuff. Nope. How old was he when he crawled, walked, spoke – no idea. Terrible maybe, but it proves that it really doesn’t matter that much to me in the long run. The only reason I ever think about it now is because I have a second child and I’m anticipating when she is going to do it all.
So why, when I’m at the park do I find myself explaining his age to everyone we meet? Every time he acts his age, I catch myself making sure everyone around understands that “he’s only three:”
Oh, sorry he’s not moving off of the bottom of the slide. He’s only three.
Oh, sorry he’s standing in the way on the jungle gym. He’s only three.
Oh, sorry he keeps taking your kid’s toy. He’s only three.
I guess these wouldn’t be so bad if the first two weren’t explained to five-year-olds. What is wrong with me? Who cares how a child acts at a park? Who feels the need to explain said behavior to five-year-olds? Me, apparently.
I started thinking about this because my husband took the kids the park and just called me to report a cute thing that was going on. An adorable little six-year-old girl was following our son around everywhere asking him to chase her. His favorite new show is Wallykazam – it’s a children’s show about a troll who uses a magic stick to make words. He is now obsessed with carrying a stick everywhere he goes. The little girl turned to him and asked, “Hey, wanna chase me?” To which my kid replied, “I’m going to turn you into a cow with my magic stick!” Cute, right? The first thing I said to my husband was, “Did you tell her he’s three?” Yes, because it’s important that this grade-schooler understands why my son doesn’t get the intricacies of “chase” yet.
This is dumb. Who cares if the general public understands how old my kid is? He certainly doesn’t care; he’s perfectly happy being misunderstood by his older peers and other parents. I guess as much as I try to pretend that I don’t care what others think of my parenting, I really kind of do. It’s the only explanation for why I constantly feel the need to let everyone know that he looks way older than he is.
Oh, well. Maybe I’ll be able to stop this behavior by the time my second giant baby reaches toddlerhood.