Our little boy was two and a half over Christmas.
If you’re child-free and reading this, I already see your eyes rolling into the back of your head. He’s two for God’s sake. And he’ll be three at his next birthday.
But right up until the actual day of his “two and a half”-ness, if you asked me what age he was, you’d get some variation of “he was two in June”, “he won’t be two and a half until after Christmas”, “he’s not quite two and a half”…
I remember having to pause and do the maths in my head when someone would tell me their baby was 23 weeks or 17 months so that I could figure out what age they “actually” were, by my view of the world. Then a day came where I counted my baby’s age briefly in days, then weeks for a long old time – 26 I think. Once I needed to start dividing things by four, I knew it was time to switch. I stuck with months until his second birthday.
Why the pedantic precision? When you’re sitting in a local breastfeeding support group gripping your tiny three week old and looking at the woman sitting across from you with her gigantic, old-enough-to-get-a-job 14 week old and you can’t picture your baby ever being that size, then you know every day makes a difference.
In a parent’s eyes, the change in their baby from one month to the next is like a whole other world. You’re talking about starting one month with a baby that lies happily on the floor to four weeks later, turning away for a second and when you look back they’ve disappeared under the couch. In three short weeks, our little man crawled for the first time and took his first steps. He was like a completely different child and it was time that made that happen.
I’ve heard people talk about how parents referring to their children’s ages in months is a pretentious, smug thing that they do purely to rub others up the wrong way, but really it isn’t. It’s very important to them that people understand that their children are the exact ages that they are, so that they can contextualise their development. People make so many judgements based on size or behaviour; as if there’s one yardstick when there’s a full spectrum. I have a tall boy, that’s why I now find myself saying he’s two and a half. It’s important to me that people don’t think he’s older than he is and expect more from him than he’s capable of. He’s only two and a half! (see what I mean?). Same with the mother of the 21 week old when asked if that child is on solids yet or the father who’s questioned why his 1 year old toddler isn’t walking yet – he’s only 13 months, he’s grand! Do you get me?
We’re not doing it to annoy you. We’re doing it because it’s important to us and it makes a difference.