I’ve frequently heard the saying “every child is different” and believed it, but it never truly resonated with me until I had four kids of my own. You see, as a society we tend to compare our kids to other kids and/or other kids to our own. We find out that little Johnny has been reading since he was four and we feel like our child is behind, as if little Johnny were the standard. Or we hear that little Susie didn’t say her first word until she was 18 months and for some reason think, “Aww, poor thing is behind.” I’m not saying everyone does this, but many do. I know I felt like I had to keep up with the Jones until one day I decided why do I care what the Jones are doing when I don’t even know them?!
They all walked at different times, talked at different times, potty trained at different times and they are all different, individual people. While one of the kids potty trained at two, another potty trained at four, and there was nothing wrong with that. Having a big family made me realize that kids are mentally and physically ready for things at different ages and that is perfectly normal. While I stressed in the beginning of parenthood about making sure the kids were on track or ahead of where they needed to be, I was hit with a big reality when my third and fourth children were diagnosed with autism within six months of one another. That was a wake-up call; it taught me to learn at what pace my child needs to move and to be their cheerleader, where they are, not where I think they need to be.
My youngest, who is almost four, went to children’s church for the first time since birth last Sunday. It’s been a long battle. She cried and was inconsolable as an infant when away from us and we always had to get her from nursery, so to say we have been working on it for a long time, would be an understatement. My daughter was so proud to tell her siblings that she stayed in her class. We all made a big deal of it and she beamed with pride. Though my oldest two started nursery/children’s church by six months, my two youngest moved at their own pace, and we learned to not rush them to do things before they were ready. In fact, now that they are ready, they love children’s church and the tears are gone.