Thursday, March 10, 2011

Celebrating the Little Milestones

This morning, I got the surprise in my life. In the best way possible.

We were getting ready for the walk to my son's preschool, and I'd asked Kiddo to put on his zip-up fleece jacket that he wears under his raincoat. I'd run in to use the bathroom and when I came out, Kiddo was standing in the hallway with the biggest grin.

"Mama! I zipped up myself!" he crowed triumphantly.

"Wow!" I couldn't keep my own smile off my face. "I am really impressed! You really worked at that!" Kiddo's almost a month shy of turning four, and this was the first ever time he'd done this at home. I didn't mind helping him-- and I don't have any magical ideas that he'll never need help with zippers again-- but this was big stuff. We had to honor this.

"Let's take a picture" I said, grabbing the camera and then setting it down again. "Here, we need a sign so we know what to remember." Living in a preschool, paper and markers are always within reach and so I quickly wrote "First Time Zipping Up Fleece at Home" and he held it up. Click! Captured for eternity.

I showed him the picture and then there were two happy Kiddo faces: one on the camera, and one right in front of me.

We make a big deal out of birthdays, kindergarten, the days our babies took their first steps or uttered their first words. I think, though, that the little milestones deserve recognition, because they do require our children to really stretch themselves and persevere through those little challenges of self-care and becoming more independent. Kiddo is doing a lot of work these days. He's learned how to blow his nose, which is huge, and his teachers are really stretching him as they help him learn how to play in groups. He's sometimes very tired in the evenings because he's being asked to move out of his comfort zone of independent play and really work with other kids. This manifests itself, some mornings, in foot dragging and "I don't want to go to school today" and mostly, a lot-- and I mean a lot-- of being held by me. Like a toddler, he ventures out into his world apart from me, and then needs to reconnect in a big way. I'm trying to be patient with it, because I see this is really hard for him right now.

So, today, his work of zipping up his coat was especially meaningful. He hadn't wanted to go to school, and he got ready anyway. He likes to be more dependent on me, wanting me to do things for him, and yet, he did it anyway. He doesn't like to always apply himself to trying those fine-motor challenges, and he still got that coat on and zipped all on his own.

"I hope you feel proud of yourself. This is a big deal, sweetie." I hugged him and then we got our boots on and headed out into the rainy day, one big/little milestone down, and so many more to go.

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