I watched Nate crawl on the floor, from his toy chest, to the sofa. He then placed his little hands on the armrest, using it to scoot himself up as he held tightly, before cruising from one section to the next. He was careful to make sure that each hand gripped the cushions, so that he wouldn’t make the mistake of falling, as he had done in the past. My 3 1/2 year old son, then carefully treaded over to me, allowing me to scoop him up, giving him a big hug and kiss.
I was proud of Nate as he was making great strides in his development, but walking independently was something that continued to elude him.
I looked at other children the same age as Nate, and I could see that they had mastered walking and were now running like track olympians, around their home, the park, or the aisles of a store. Their parents, happily chased after them, as they called for them to slow down and come to a complete stop.
Well, that was not Nate. He was not one of those children, but one that was secure in holding onto the furniture, taking one step at a time, and sitting comfortably in his stroller.
“When will my child walk?” I groaned and complained inwardly, thinking about how difficult it was to lift him up from his car seat, take him off the school bus, and place him in a shopping cart. Nate was heavy! And I wanted him to walk like every other child his age.
Well, about a year or so later, Nate walked, and I couldn’t have been happier. That was the end of that goal. However it wasn’t the end of the comparisons.
I looked at other children Nate’s age, wondering when he was going to catch up or reach other goals that we specified in his I.E.P. (Individualized Educational Plan). I didn’t know when, but I hoped that it would be soon. I wanted Nate to be able to do all the things that kids his age were doing.
And as that desire seemed to take over me, I could see the annoyance and frustration with Nate because he was not doing things as I thought he should be doing for his age. Suddenly I began to understand how I had placed an unfair expectation on my son. I was wrongly measuring Nate by other children that did not have his diagnosis, disability, or his DNA. That was horrible of me!
It was then that I began to realize that Nate was unique. He was one of a kind. I could not compare his development to anyone else. Doing so was unfair.
Nate deserved for me to look at him as an individual and allow him to reach his goals and succeed at his own pace, without the weight of me comparing him to others.