They grow up so fast..? Bite me.

Domitille helping her dad

Image by plewicki via Flickr

Parenthood is littered with pointless unhelpful platitudes. It’s like someone handed out a hand-book of “things to say when you have nothing to say”, and everyone read and memorized it. I’m getting real sick of conversations where I can predict the reaction of the person I’m talking to, down to the word. It’s hard not to roll my eyes; instead I kindly smile and oooh and aaah at their insights. So what I tend to do now is not share what I feel and experience with friends and family out there, I just write it in here instead. Lucky you.

One particular saying is so common, and so wrong, that it’s getting an entire post to itself. “They grow up so fast, don’t they!”. This is commonly accompanied by “uh oh, your child looks like it’s about to learn to crawl / walk, what a nuisance that is… they just grow up too fast..!” These people know I have a developmentally delayed child, and I still hear it all the time. Let me tell you something, children grow up at the exact right speed nature intended. Because you sure as heck notice it when their growth is delayed; it is worrisome, and painful and distressing. It is hard to carry a 20kg child who should be walking and climbing by themself. It is almost impossible to contain a tantrum of the type that should have stopped happening when they were a baby, and have since grown into a child’s body. Changing a four-year old’s nappies isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. Growing up – developing at the right speed – would be just awesome from where I’m sitting.

And no it’s not a time to dismay when they learn to crawl and walk, it is a reason to celebrate and breathe a sigh of relief. I accept that I have to protect my house from my one year-old baby and protect my baby from my house as he’s learnt these skills, and not once did I think “gosh he grew up so fast, I wish I could turn back the clock.” Sure he was a cute infant, but do I have wistful thoughts of the sleepless nights that I used to hate because he was feeding every two hours..? No. He grew up when he should, as he should, and that’s firmly in the “yay” category for me. As it should be for everyone.

A friend recently said I would one day miss having my children at home so I should cherish every day I have with them now, even when it sucks monkey-butt. Really? She can promise me that my autistic son will one day leave home? Because if she can, she got a memo my son’s health professionals didn’t get. I will not regret the day he leaves home, if he ever leaves home, I will instead cherish it as the next step in his development as a human being.

One of our primary jobs as parents is to give our children independence. I work hard to give that gift to both my children. So I refuse to mourn when they advance to the next stages of their lives. They’re on the road towards the day when they no longer need me to hold their hand (or change their nappy, or feed them). I love my kids, it’s not like I wish they were gone, and it’s not even that I wish they’d both grow up faster. I just happen to understand and intimately appreciate, that children do not “grow up too fast”.

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8 Responses to They grow up so fast..? Bite me.

  1. KWombles says:

    I think parents of kids who hit every developmental milestone on time can’t fathom what it’s like to have a child who lags behind, who is years behind developmental milestones. The last 21 years with Bobby have gone by speedily in retrospect, but, no, he’s not grown up so fast, not at all. Ah, and the cherish it now because you’ll miss it later. I tried to appreciate the closeness when he was ten, a hundred pounds, and still insisting on being in my lap with the idea that I’d miss that when he was sixteen and no longer doing that (surely he’d no longer do that?–and he didn’t, he outgrew lap sitting at eleven). I’m not sure it made the difficulties easier, though. Platitudes give people something safe to say when they don’t know what else to say.

    I’m relieved as my three develop and grow at their own pace; I work hard to see the good in this moment, to downplay to hard and painful stuff, but I don’t take any of it for granted. And I hope that I avoid platitudes. 🙂

    Happy New Year. (oh crap, maybe I don’t avoid all traditional sayings, though!)

    • Happy New Year to you too KWombles 🙂

      And you’re right, I know they don’t truly fathom the differences, and I also try to see the good in the hard, it’s just been extra tricky of late and I’d finally had enough yesterday and had to do a post get get rid of some of the frustration. My 5 year-old has had a fever the last few days, and trying to get him to take medicine to bring it down keeps setting off anxiety attacks, to the point of peeing himself. When I tried to talk to friends about the situation all I got was platitudes, including someone saying that I’ll miss it all when they leave home..! *sigh*

      Oh well. Take a deep breath and start the next day (and the next year).

  2. KDL says:

    I had a friend tell me recently that she wished she could just freeze her kids in the stage they’re in right now and live life that way forever. I’m not sure I completely contained my inability to relate. I’m so pleased when all of my kids make progress of any sort. I watch for every milestone and rejoice as it is met…with my first because it has usually been preceded by months/years of effort to learn a particular skill; with my twins because it happens so much more naturally and I gain assurance with each step that they will not have such a struggle to get along in the world. It does go fast in some ways (can’t believe it’s 2011 and that my twins will be 3 in a few days) but that speed doesn’t stop me from rejoicing in their forward progress every step of the way.

    • Nicely said KDL. That’s a very good point about the hard work that goes into essentially earning each developmental step of autistic children. It’s a topic I mean to do a post on at some stage.

      And a very happy (upcoming) birthday to your twins 🙂

  3. Sarah says:

    I feel this frustration all the time, and I’m almost at the point where I want to tell people to just not say anything about my kids, because it will probably annoy me.

    I realize that’s not socially acceptable and that I have to find a way to deal with it. But the fact is, unless the other parent truly “gets it,” almost any comment they make is just a reminder of how different their life is from mine (and that they are completely unaware of that difference). And instead of taking deep breaths and looking for common ground, I’m more likely to feel bitter and shut down the conversation before I say something I might regret.

    Writing about it helps. Talking to other people who get it helps. Deep breaths probably help too, although I can’t say I follow my own advice. I think eventually our social circles shift to include more people who get it, and we either choose to spend less time with people who don’t — or we begin to educate them.

    Loved your other “platitudes” post, btw.

    • So true Sarah, and I especially like your observation about the choice to educate people, it’s a noble and hard choice (and you do it so well might I add).

      And thank you for the compliment about my Platitudes post 🙂

  4. Kris kinder says:

    Very well said! People have no idea what to say and should keep silent! I had a police officer tell me he had two kids so he knows how it is when they want something and don’t get their way. Really ! How can anyone with typical kids relate ?

    Thank you

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