That annoying thing that parents say when you ask them their kids’ ages

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.

Mind the Baby, www.mindthebaby.ie, That annoying thing that parents say when you ask them their kids ages

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.

18 thoughts on “That annoying thing that parents say when you ask them their kids’ ages”

  1. Definitely. I think I used weeks (with halves) until about 12 weeks, and then moved to months (with halves) until 24. After that it’s years plus quarters until, ooh, at least eight, I’d say. There’s still an enormous difference between a four-year-old who was still three just a few weeks ago and one who’s soon to turn five.

    1. I thought that might be the case alright. Your four year old example makes perfect sense. 13 and a half probably won’t swing though 😉

  2. Ah here, this is huge to me. (I also can never fathom how anyone says how many months rather than weeks pregnant they are, months mean nothing by comparison)

    My little guy is 18 months next week. He’s not 1. 1 covers waayyyy too much territory for it to mean anything – it’s like ickle baby to running & chatting holy terror.

  3. I read this nodding and going “yes, yes, yes” I think I had the pre-child opinion and now have the post-child opinion. And I had a baby who was very big for his age up until recently so definitely needed to be clear that he was only nine months old and nowhere near walking!

  4. Done it all! In weeks. Then months. Now I go, “I THINK he will be three in April. Let me check. Yes, he’ll be three.” Buut I agree. It was so important to me that everyone knew this 16 week old baby was this old because of everything I did. And like everything else, until you’ve been there. you haven’t a bull’s notion.

  5. So true! I feel I’m selling my small girl short all over Christmas by saying she’s 7months, she only turned it today.
    It’s a protective thing when you’ve a child that’s big for their age too, my eldest is in Junior infants, recently turned 5 and looks 7.
    People hanging on to the weeks past 4 months though is a bit headwrecky. This time on baby3 I had to check an app on my phone when the public health nurse asked how many weeks she was!

  6. Totally get this. When they are newborn each week makes all the difference developmental wise and same way just 6 months can make such a difference in their brains that are like sponges at 2 years. Everyone usually thinks my 2 and a half year old is about 3 because he is so big/tall 😉

  7. Ha ha. I so remember this especially with my first two. Now it is oh so different. My eldest is 22 ( i started young!) and i’m often tempted to disown her altogether and speak of my younger three or else say she is 20 ( because the years sill make a difference)
    I remember going away for a glorious week with no children a few years ago. Just him and me. I told everyone we had two children aged 4 and 18months, because before they know the age of my children people judge my age and after they know their ages they judge again!

  8. Ha ha!I totally get this -up until Mini turned 2, I was all about the weeks and the months. Then I started answering “2” to queries, only for people to say oh, she’s tall for 2-she isn’t, she just looks like she is!-which caused me to use fractions for the first time!Now I can say nearly 3, which is much handier-no need for me to do maths in my head!

    1. I hear ya on the looking tall! People always say oh he’s very big for his age but then when you look at all the kids in his pre-Monty class, they’re all the same height or bigger!

      Although no one ever comments that a child is “just the right size” for their age. They’re always “very big” or “a tiny little thing” 🙂

  9. I take Tuesday pictures of T, every week. Not so I know how many weeks she is so I can blow people’s minds but so I can show her when she’s older. People are always asking me if I’ll ever stop taking that weekly picture! Why would I want to? I’ve created a tradition. But yeah, she’s just three 😉

What do you think?