6 Aug 2013

Of Growth Spurts and Milestones

J recently had his 2 year check with the health visitor. She was happy with the way he was performing (apart from the loud screams when I tried to stand him on the scales to get weighed) and satisfied that he had achieved all developmental milestones appropriate for his age (including the loud screams when we tried to measure his height). 

Growth spurts and milestones. We have been through a few of those over the last couple of years. Nothing you read in books, nothing they talk about at health checks, can actually prepare you for what goes on during one of these episodes.

Now our J is a reasonably well-behaved child who follows a reasonable day- and night-time routine (as is reasonably reasonable for a baby, infant and toddler). I am not saying we are disciples of Gina Ford, oh, no! We had a particularly harrowing night of screaming, feeding (or the regimented lack of it), raised tempers (of the parents) and an epiphany about trusting nothing but my instincts in bringing up this child. The parenting books have since been binned. 

So by and large, J is a happy and contented little thing. (M says it is all his genes, bah!) But once every few weeks, the child undergoes a transformation. He develops a voracious appetite and tries to devour anything he can lay his little hands on; everything that is even remotely appetising. There have been occasions when unsuspecting visitors to the C household have been left flabbergasted on bearing witness to this version of J. 

The ravenous behaviour tends to last for a couple of days at a time. Then suddenly one morning we notice that his clothes are too short and snug, he needs a new pair of shoes as the old ones no longer fit, and the boy has shot up a couple of inches in his sleep. Another growth spurt!

These growth spurts have become easier to handle with the passage of time. At the first whiff of one, we just make sure there is a steady supply of good, nutritious food around the house. A satiated J is never difficult.

But a J reaching a developmental milestone is a different story. The tot becomes completely unpredictable and erratic, his routine goes out the window. The usually compliant J takes on a new persona. You can almost see the circuitry in his brain undergo rewiring as new connections get made, new memories get stored, just before he shows us what new trick he has learned. It happened when he first started to roll over onto his tummy, it happened when he started to sit up, and again when he started bum-shuffling. The transition to crawling was a bit easier, but the cranky behaviour resurfaced just before he started to walk. 

Over the last few days, J has been waking up at 5 am. Nothing unusual about that, you would say. Tots do that sometimes. Except that he has refused to go back to bed after. Not even CBeebies is on before 6! So a sleep-deprived me has had to cope with a grumpy J all through the day. Well, at least he will go off to bed early, I think to myself. Wishful thinking! The child has been refusing to go down at bedtime, screaming blue murder instead. Last night was particularly trying as M and I had to contend with a howling toddler late into the night. We could sense the synapses in his brain crackling with intense electrical activity and knew we were on the verge of something exciting.

I wasn't disappointed. The child woke up this morning, all happy and cheerful. We started with the usual "Morning, Shunshine." There has been no looking back since. We have had a day of incessant chattering and relentless parroting!  The words are coming thick and fast. Sentences are being formed, rhymes are being sung, stories are being read. Language has ceased to be a barrier. Marathi and English are being, not so fluently, used. 

At the end of the day, dealing with Mr. Cranky Pants for a little(!) while is a small price to pay for the joy of watching such a miracle unfold before my eyes.


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