Those of us who are parents of small children look forward to so many milestones. We get excited with the first tooth (even though it may be painful), the first step (despite the challenges of a fully-mobile child), and the first word (trying to convince ourselves that the baby really knows what "dada" means.)
But if you're a parent you know there's also a whole set of secret milestones. These are the ones mothers and fathers don't want to talk about. When we do speak of them, it is with other parents, under the cover of night, in terrified whispers. We know if we let the cat out of the bag, we might scare potential parents, and the world would end at this generation.
So it is with great trepidation that I prepare to reveal five secret milestones that parents wish their children would never reach. If you dare, list your own in the comments.
1. Learning to unscrew caps from jars, tubes, and bottles. Depending on the interests of your child, this terrible milestone leads to toothpaste painting, salad dressing chugging, or hair washing with salsa shampoo. Or maybe, in particularly horrifying cases, all three.
2. Figuring out that when an item is dropped, someone picks it up. Babies who have hit this milestone think it is great fun to drop the same item dozens of times in a row, and delight in watching Mommy or Daddy pick it up every time. I am currently investigating allegations that this behavior is learned via subliminal messages, placed in PBS cartoons by hospitals for the criminally insane. They are seeking new patients, and who better than a frazzled parent who has to pick up the teething ring one...more...tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime?!
3. Learning that toilet paper, when pulled, unrolls from the tube. Even repeated admonitions of, "You will have NO INHERITANCE if I keep having to buy more Charmin!" seem to have no effect on a child who is anxious to practice the toilet paper unrolling skill. This is closely related to the milestone of figuring out that it's fun to dip sheets or entire rolls of toilet paper into the potty, in order to play with the wet, soggy paper.
4. Food-flinging. For some reason, as yet unexplained by scientists, every developing human brain reaches a point at which suddenly the only rational way to end a meal is to fling every bit of uneaten food onto nearby walls, floors, parents, and pets. Particularly advanced children also manage to paint their skin, clothing, and hair with pureed food, all before parents can put the leftovers in the trash. Some children hit this milestone and quickly get past it; others still find food-flinging to be a pleasant diversion well into toddlerhood.
5. Backtalking. Parents rejoice to watch their children develop language skills, but around the age of three, they are surprised to see their child suddenly using well-formed retorts. For instance, a mother may say, "Sit on your bottom," and be shocked to hear her small child respond, "No, you sit on your bah-bahm!" This leads parents to wonder why no one told them that the teens actually start ten years earlier than they'd expected.
I really do think, if we want future generations to procreate, we should keep these secret milestones to ourselves...don't you?