Monday, April 12, 2010

Relative Indicators

A short thought before starting my thesis editing for the day and afterwards lecturing.

Yesterday afternoon, I (un)intentionally browsed through a child development website (a US one, mind you) to see the milestones of an 18-24 month old toddler. The table contained the statistics of the skills a child of a certain age should have learned. And I studied them, compared them to Malik's - to no direct gain aside from stressing me a bit.

Some of the milestones he's surpassed and some he is behind. And I tend to emphasise on the ones he's behind. But the thing with these statistics is the fact that they are indicators that are generalised by a sample taken from a general population of children in another country. With different food combination, language, cultural backgrounds and the list goes on.

They are there to guide us, not determine for us. So that we can identify if there's a problem and whether or not this is an issue. I need to be able to see them as that, not solid indicators to the relative journey of a human being's growth and learning process. I don't want to be the type of parent who compares her son's grades to another student - and motivate him to be better based on 'competition'. Because within the concept of 'competition', there is no space for the concept of 'sharing'.

As a mother, half of the unit called Malik's 'parents', I want him to be able to acknowledge his strengths, his passion, the things that make his brain tick and work harder - not because he has to beat someone at it, but because he enjoys learning. From that 'sincere effort' comes great things, I think. From that 'sincere effort' comes the will to achieve not for recognition, but for the sake of learning.

So as long as his pediatrician isn't worried, and he is a very good diagnostician, I shouldn't be. I need to see Malik as a unique individual, with particular interests in reading books, kicking his ball, drawing on the floor (I buy him washable crayons hehe), moving to music and feeding the stray cat that keeps hanging around our porch.

Although these statistical indicators are important to see if he is healthy, they are not absolute. Afterall, his growth is not a target, it's a process. Just like mine, just like Arya's. And as a parent, I should let him learn to be himself. Just as my parents had done with me.

With (intense) love.

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