As might be expected, I go to a conference for four days and Nico begins to crawl. Marta predicted this before I left, and I agreed with her prediction. Baby milestones are nothing if not missed.
Nico also learned to clap on command (if you yell “Bien!” in a really loud voice and start clapping yourself, she will start clapping. I have already used this trick several times when she is about to cry, and it works like a charm).
I know I should feel sad for missing these milestones, but I really don’t.
I don’t because they are, well, baby milestones. They happen once and then they keep happening. If I had missed the one time Nico crawled, that would be sad. If I missed the one time Nico excitedly clapped on command, two bags of loose leaf tea in hand (gifts for Marta from my conference, which was in Seattle), that would have been devastating.
In fact, I am beginning to doubt milestones in general. It seems to me babies are always kind-of doing the things they eventually all-the-way do and that we then call milestones. Like this whole speaking thing. Or that idea of the “first word.” I am really unclear how any parent ever determines what their child’s first word is.
Nico so far has made a whole range of interesting sounds, ranging from “Aya” to “Baba,” and yet only with two of these (Mama and Ama) do we believe she has actually said a “word.” Quite conveniently, the words we think she is saying are ones that refer to Marta or me. But, really, she could be saying “Ama” when she is thinking about her dirty diaper and “Mama” when she remembers the Alamo. Who knows. Maybe she isn’t thinking about anything. Quite probably she isn’t thinking about anything. Or quite probably she is thinking about different things when she says the same “word” and yet at some point we have decided she said her first word.
Hence the complication of milestones.
They seem to exist simply to worry you (see my earlier post on claims of non-crawling-related brain disorders) or to make you feel like you’ve missed something. When, basically they are just a form of parental make believe.
So, yes, I wish I had seen Nico crawl for the first time. But, would I have traded that for the experience of four days in Seattle, the last of which I spent touring the Rem Koolhouse designed public library?
Or going to the Seattle Art Museum, where I fell in love with my first Helen Frankenthaler painting and got to stare up at three Ford Taurus sedans punctured with beams of (artistic) light?
I love Nico and I celebrate her milestones, but I also enjoyed getting away, on my own, in a relatively new city (though Marta much less enjoyed being left home alone with Nico, who also developed a milestone sleeping disorder while I was gone). I enjoyed seeing old friends who, now that I am stuck in a desolate, dry corner of Texas, I never see anymore and two of whom are pregnant themselves and super-hugable. I enjoyed a milestone meal of mussels and french fries with an expensive glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
And then I really enjoyed coming home and finding Nico reaching and surpassing another important milestone, the “I will always have two items in my hands at all times” milestone. It’s super cute. And totally developmentally on-target.